Let’s not expect it to be a perfect system, but it does help achieve an overall objective of planning in that it supports organizing the developing parts of the county into districts of similar uses.
It supplies a way of looking at concerns and conflicts on a case-by-case basis with representatives drawn from the districts concerned.
One of the chief concerns of the town’s recent effort to control territory outside its corporate limits is that the notion of a town controlling property outside its town limits strikes many as being unconstitutional. That term – unconstitutional – has appeared frequently during the fray.
The American revolutionary phrase “taxation without representation” is associated with that thinking.
Establishing the ETJ is not “land use planning without representation.” County commissioners will name the ETJ representatives. If you vote for the commissioners, then you give yourself a voice in the matter. The overall system of ETJ representation on the planning board is a manifestation of state legislation, discussed in Raleigh. If you vote for your state senator and representative, you have given yourself a voice in the matter.
Planning board meetings are mandated to be open to the public in most cases and certainly in the final decision stages. That means you can go and know and express your opinion.
On top of that, aldermen listened to concerns in the then proposed ETJ and responded to them. They moved the proposed sexually-oriented business area within town limits. They eased restrictions on replacing mobile homes grandfathered to their existing sites in areas not designated in the future for mobile home sites.
The planning system is beneficial to all concerned. It gives a voice instead of taking away a voice. Without the system, if your neighbor across the street from your home wants to erect a manufacturing plant, you have no voice. You have no rights other than possibly in the courts.
Anyone with concerns about losing property rights should be embracing land use planning rather than rejecting it.
A disturbing thing about this recent exercise in land use planning is the exploitation of half truths, misunderstandings and outright fabrications like this issue of unconstitutionality.
Responding to some of the half truths and misrepresentations has been impossible. Some forums have been used to spread every imaginable kind of bologna to see what would stick. They have used personal attacks to distract from facts. These forums have been used to back calls for boycotts of West Jefferson businesses. How foolish and unnecessarily damaging.
Lies are a far greater hazard to our civil rights in this matter than anything put forward by government.