Eventually week’s assembly of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, a matter being mentioned introduced again up a subject from final yr: ETJ.
ETJ means extraterritorial jurisdiction. For a few of the people who appeared earlier than the county officers final yr, it was extra of a four-letter phrase than three letters.
The late Rawley King and J.T. Henson spoke to the county board at a January 2019 assembly.
“Town has jurisdiction over 7,000 to eight,000 individuals who stay in a no man’s land with no direct illustration,” stated Henson. “Metropolis officers aren’t accountable to ETJ residents by way of the poll field.”
Individuals who stay in that one-mile boundary should get permits from town and are affected by choices made by town like water and sewer charges, stated King. And but, people like him can’t vote in metropolis elections.
When the ETJ was established, compelled annexation was nonetheless allowed, stated King. Now that such annexation isn’t allowed, he feels the ETJ is ineffective.
Nicely, right here is the place it helps to be previous. I began at The Information in 1995. After a fellow reporter left a yr later, I started overlaying conferences of the Mount Ethereal Board of Commissioners.
King, Henson, your complete county board: none of those people had been at these conferences when town employees first introduced up the thought of an ETJ. However I used to be.
A number of occasions final yr in the course of the arguments for and towards an ETJ, the time period compelled annexation got here up. You recognize the place it didn’t come up? On the workshops I attended the place town deliberate for an ETJ.
That’s proper, all this discuss abolishing the ETJ as a result of town can’t do compelled annexations? Town employees wasn’t pushing for that within the first place.
In reality, the best way annexation got here up is that if town did its job of planning out development, individuals would come to town asking to hitch.
The phrase that did come up usually was “city sprawl.” Town planning board defined that some cities have a plan for a way development ought to happen outward, and a few don’t. No planning can result in random areas of growth unfold round an space with poor definition between business and residential utilization.
The sprawl half additionally refers to how typically development is unfold out and makes it onerous to supply metropolis companies simply resembling hearth and police safety and rubbish service.
One other half that was talked about was that some residents really feel like buildings and development simply exterior town limits harm their property values. If town had some management over what might occur proper up towards its borders, then landowners could possibly be protected.
And let’s face it, there’s a huge distinction between residing in a metropolis and residing out in a rural county.
I used to be at a gathering as soon as 22-23 years in the past the place a metropolis committee was debating the precise top grass could possibly be earlier than it was too excessive and ought to be towards metropolis regulation. If the grass is simply too excessive, then the property itself could possibly be a public well being hazard due to the danger of vermin and snakes that pursue vermin, the committee members stated.
Cities have guidelines associated to rubbish pickup and canines on leashes — some locations have guidelines on canine poop pickup.
If people stay in shut proximity to one another, some concerns should be made. Bear in mind, one of many pillars of our authorized system is that I’ve all types of freedom — proper up till they infringe in your freedoms.
Having a celebration is authorized, but when the noise from the celebration upsets your neighbors, you then’ve infringed on their proper to not be disturbed.
I stay out within the county and occur to love it that method.
I’ve 4 neighbors with goal taking pictures ranges inside half a mile of my home. On fairly days, it may well get a bit noisy exterior. I’ve a neighbor with roosters that don’t know when to stop crowing. One other neighbor likes to have get-togethers (social distancing be damned).
I don’t thoughts. Dwell and let stay.
Someday I visiting a neighbor when he talked about that he might hear me the day earlier than wailing away on my electrical guitar all the best way over at his home.
I began to cringe and apologize, however he shrugged and stated, “Sounded fairly good.” And that was that.
One factor that bugged me final yr was that we don’t actually understand how the plenty felt about abolishing the ETJ.
As a reporter, I simply inform the info. I report the information, not make it, so I didn’t query the method.
Nonetheless, it stunned me that the problem didn’t come to a vote. Why not put the query on the poll for folk within the metropolis limits and people in voting districts inside the ETJ?
Even in a non-presidential yr when turnout might solely be 1 / 4 or a 3rd of the inhabitants, that’s nonetheless a greater indication of how individuals actually really feel than simply letting a dozen or two dozen disgruntled people communicate out.
Did they actually communicate for the various? Or was it a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease?
Commissioner Eddie Harris introduced up an attention-grabbing level final week when he identified that there have been three residents complaining a few neighbor’s nuisance property. No county ordinance applies to the place in query, but when the ETJ had been nonetheless in place, then the codes enforcement officer might go try the positioning and see if town’s stricter rules had been being violated.
As a substitute, the neighbors could also be compelled to pursue a lawsuit towards the property as a public nuisance, which they might lose.