Two meetings concerning the regulatory future of the town’s soon-to-be eliminated Extraterritorial jurisdictions provided opportunity for input from area residents this week.

Feedback from affected residents ranged from sentiments concerning the protection the ETJ afforded them from the encroachment of student housing to the continued regulation of high impact land uses, said Joe Furman, director of planning and inspections for Watauga County.

In June, the N.C. General Assembly voted to eliminate the town’s ETJ powers, which includes regulations pertaining to zoning, building inspections and subdivision control.

With this new legislation axing the enacted ETJ, Watauga County will assume regulatory authority over the area on Jan. 1, 2015.

An ETJ is commonly known as the area immediately outside of town limits.

Previously, ETJ residents could not vote in town elections, did not pay town taxes and did not receive town services, but residents of the ETJ served on the town’s Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission.

To gear-up for the changeover, the Watauga County Planning Board was asked by the county to make recommendations about what, if any, action the county should take, according to a letter sent to home owners by the Watauga County Department of Planning and Inspections.

The first meeting, held at the Boone Campus of Caldwell Community College on Monday night, attracted approximately 30 people, said Furman.

The second meeting was held Tuesday night at Blue Ridge Electric for populations of east Boone. That meeting drew 60 people, he said.

“Any amount that comes out is good,” said Furman of attendance at the meetings. “It’s helpful.”

During the course of both meetings, attendees were divided into separate groups to answer questions and list concerns before converging again in one larger group again.

“Most of the people who attended the meeting had a particular issue they were concerned about and were hoping to have protection from,” said Furman. “A smaller amount of folks who attended meeting are happy ETJ not going to be there any more.”

Land usage and neighborhood demographics dominated a portion of the meetings.

“People have said they like the protection (of the ETJ) from having student housing in their neighborhood or having students living in housing in the neighborhood,” said Furman. “On the eastern side of town,  (residents) were concerned with high impact land uses like asphalt plants being regulated. A smaller number of folks have said they wanted the county not to do anything in those areas.”

The third and final meeting, for South of Boone, will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 6 at the Greenway Baptist Church Family Life Center, located at 880 Greenway Road.

Written questions/comments may be submitted to 331 Queen Street, Suite A, Boone, N.C. 28607.

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