Municipalities would be prohibited from exercising any planning authority outside their corporate limits by a bill currently making its way through the state House of Representatives.
Goldsboro Mayor Chuck Allen said he does not foresee the loss of that planning authority as an issue since the state has already pretty much eliminated a municipality’s annexation authority — the main reason behind the need for extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) to begin with.
House Bill 215, which would eliminate a city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, has passed its first reading in the House and has been referred to the Rules, Calendar and Operations Committee.
The bill contends that citizens who live within a city’s ETJ planning jurisdiction cannot vote in municipal elections. As such, they cannot choose the elected officials who will make planning decisions about the areas in which they live, according to the bill.
“The reason you have ETJs to start with is those areas that abut the corporate limits,” Allen said. “They give you a little say-so in the areas that surround you because of thinking one day you might go out and annex them, or they might want to be annexed in.
“Since they (state) have done away with annexation, I’m not sure that the ETJ would matter to us as much one way or the other. It is really just a planning thing. That is the only thing that we do in the ETJ. So if we don’t do it, the the county has got to do it.”
Allen said that if he was asked if he would give up the ETJ tomorrow, his answer would be yes.
“I don’t think it would matter that much, and it costs us more money because our planning people have to deal with the ETJ,” Allen said. “The other side of that coin is, and the reason I think there ever was an ETJ was because as cities grow at the time you had annexation, then you were just trying to get prepared for the annexation.
“That area would be up to city standards. But since you don’t have annexation anymore, I just don’t see where it matters.”
Allen said he does not think the loss of an ETJ would affect the city’s and Wayne County’s efforts to protect the areas surrounding Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
The city and county are in step with everything around the base as far as land planning is concerned, Allen said.