Tuesday, June 05, 2012

When Last Heard From, The Senator Was Clueless

Sen. Dan Soucek’s “local bill” depriving Boone of the power to exercise its authority in its extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is totally uncharted territory. No one, certainly not an elected member of the NC General Assembly, has ever put forward such a radical rug-pulling.

While it’s clear that the senator hasn’t thought through the consequences of his own bill, it falls to the Boone Town Council and its administrative staff to probe its implications. (Yesterday, I heard one local wit say that although Senator Soucek’s bill is only one sentence long, he could have shortened it even more to “Bend over.”)

In Senator Soucek’s interview with Anna Oakes, published in Sunday’s Watauga Democrat, he said he didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Soucek’s bill reads, “The Town of Boone shall not exercise any powers of extraterritorial jurisdiction as provided in Article 19 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes.” Senator Soucek, that IS both the baby and the bathwater too: subdivision regs., public hearings on controversial developments, building inspections – Article 19 is very long, very detailed, very thorough. The whole permitting process is covered by Article 19, and if that’s thrown out, it’s gonna be the Wild West in the ETJ. Zoning regs gone, steep slope regs gone, presumably even fire inspections gone. No storm-water abatement. You name it.

So what happens? Does the county authority – such as it is – step in and perform building code enforcement in the ETJ? Considering that the chair of the County Commission, Nathan Miller, was part of Sen. Soucek’s posse in delivering the local-bill message to the Town of Boone, we see no likelihood that the county might choose to exert itself for the public good in this instance. It's always been hands-off for the county in the ETJ, but that was when the town had authority.

What becomes of the ETJ appointments to the town’s boards and commissions?

Some 315 properties in the current ETJ currently receive the town’s water, sewer, or both, and they have agreed to the town’s development standards to receive those services. What happens when those development standards are moot because of Soucek’s bill? Businesses in the ETJ will be able to do as they please, expand in any way they want, ignore rules on setbacks, signage, sidewalks, you name it. Will they still continue to receive city water/sewer services even if they violate the implied contract they entered into to receive the water in the first place?

Why do local real estate ads promote properties that are in the ETJ, as a selling point? Because of the guarantees for controlled growth that that designation has always meant, guarantees that will be thrown out with Mr. Soucek’s bathwater, if the NC General Assembly actually passes this ill-considered and corrupt piece of special pleading.



Of course the county will provide building code enforcement, just as they presently do. It isn't the building codes that are concerning us. It's the zoning! We don't want polluting industrial enterprises building their businesses next door to our homes.

Anonymous said...

We also don't want people making laws about our property when we can't vote for them.

Anonymous said...

To (Lt.) Dan Soucek:

Words of wit and wisdom from that great sage for the ages, Forrest Gump:

Mrs. (Mother of Bubba) Blue: Are you crazy or just plain stupid?

Forrest Gump: Stupid is as stupid does, Mrs Blue.

Mrs. Blue: I guess.

The words speak for themselves.

ETJ Resident said...

After Sen. Soucek assured me personally that this bill would be going nowhere without his approval, and after going on the record saying that the didn't envision doing away with the ETJ altogether, I've just been alerted to the fact that SB 949 is on the agenda for the State and Local Government Committee's Thursday meeting at 11:00AM, unamended.

I can't help but think Soucek lied to me. I am very disappointed as I was hoping he would be true to his word and would listen to ETJ residents as well as the developers who clearly already have his ear.

I know some of this has been posted before but I'm going to keep putting this information up here so that ETJ residents can keep up the pressure to keep this bill from passing. Now that it's on the committee agenda it is especially important to call the State and Local Committee members to voice opposition. If it passes in the committee it will probably become law and those of us living in the ETJ will be out of luck and probably poorer by a few thousand dollars as we watch our property values fall.

Here is the entire roster of the State and Local Government Committee. Call as many of them as you can and keep calling until you get through. Ask to speak with the Senators directly.

Jim Davis (co-chair):(919) 733-5875
Michael Walters (co-chair):(919) 733-5651
Tommy Tucker (vice chair):(919) 733-7659
Chris Carney: (919) 715-3050
Stan Bingham: (919) 733-5665
Harris Blake: (919) 733-4809
Don East: (919) 733-5743 (He co-sponsored the bill - shame on him!)
Thom Goolsby: (919) 715-2525
Fletcher Hartsell: (919) 733-7223
Kathy Harrington: (919) 733-5734 (She is a real estate agent and should understand the advantages to homeowners in the ETJ)
Brent Jackson: (919) 733-5705
Ed Jones: (919) 715-3032
Ellie Kinnaird: (919) 733-5804
Martin Nesbit: (919) 715-3001
Louis Pate: (919) 733-5621
Gladys Robinson: (919) 715-3042
Richard Stevens: (919) 733-5653
Stan White: (919) 715-8293

Anonymous said...

So we can now agree Boone's enforcement of its ETJ is stupid.

Anonymous said...

No, as someone with a home in the ETJ area, I do not want anything to change. My hope is the town will annex the ETJ area into the town. Otherwise, I'm still happy with the ETJ protections that the town provides.

Don't give up local control to the State or Federal government! This is a fundamental conservative principal.

Anonymous said...

If the county would establish some sort of reasonable controls over what can be built in residential areas, we wouldn't have to deal with an ETJ except where the town is planning to annex.

It's because proposals for reasonable county zoning were denied that county residential citizens turned to Boone for help.

johnbyjohn said...

"So we can now agree Boone's enforcement of its ETJ is stupid."

I don't think "we" can agree on that at all. That's your opinion, which you are certainly entitled to. But don't presume to speak for all of us.

Dem12 said...

There needs to be some rules about polluting industries. Those DO have an impact on surrounding property. I know that we tried that about 10 years ago and it caused such an uproar among the Deborah Greenes of the county, but the need is real. IF we done these regulations back then, there would be no need for some of the ETJ regulations.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be some rules about polluting industries.

There are on both the federal state and county levels. What's your point?

Dem12 said...

What rules does Watauga County have to protect people from a polluting industry locating next door? That was what we tried back in 2002, when there were such screams about "Zoning" in the county. Would you be all right with a gigantic hog farm being located next door to your house?

Anonymous said...

Erosion control, flood way control,etc.

Anonymous said...

We need county wide zoning! At least minimal zoning which defines areas for single family residences, multi family, retail, manufacturing/industrial, etc.

It's ridiculous for a neighborhood to have to fear that a polluting industry might be built next door to them.

Dem12 said...

"Erosion control, flood way control,etc."

Those rules don't have anything to do with WHERE the polluters can locate. Without some kind of zoning or land-use regs, polluting industries can locate anywhere they want, even if it's right in the midst of a residential neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

No we don't.

Anonymous said...

"Those rules don't have anything to do with WHERE the polluters can locate."

EXACTLY!!! If they are controlled, it doesn't matter where they are located.

Dem12 said...

So does that mean, Anonymous, that you'd be perfectly fine with a large asphalt plant or a noisy cement facility locating next door to your house? Trucks, exhaust, noise, lots of people in and out, piles of gravel, not to mention the noise and inconvenience while the construction is going on? Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

I have one very close to me. It doesn't hurt anything.

Where do you think asphalt comes from, the asphalt fairy?

Dem12 said...

I know where asphalt comes from. The point is, asphalt plants belong in industrial areas, not residential areas. Having one "close" to you is not the same as having one "next door" to you. I'm sure that even you have your threshold, Anonymous. How would you feel about a strip club locating next door to you? How about one of those perverted gay bars??

Anonymous said...

How close is next door? A common property line? 500 feet? 1000 feet? A half mile?

I don't care what people do on their own land. Its theirs.

Do you need a strip club or a gay bar to go to? How about if they combined it? Would it be more convectional for you? It doesn't bother me.

Dem12 said...

Hey, I'm all for strip clubs and gay bars! But I doubt I'd want to live next door to either... I like to go to bed too early for that! Come on Anon.... what's your limit? There's got to be something that you wouldn't like next door to you. Abortion clinic? Mosque? Obama for America office??