Columbus, Saluda look to state, not county, for ETJ permission

Published 3:39 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Columbus also went to the county seeking ETJ in 2002, but commissioners declined to hold a hearing after many citizens voiced opposition to the plan. &bsp;

Columbus and Saluda officials say in the letter to Guice that county commissioners may have viewed the towns request for ETJ as a prelude to annexation, but that&squo;s not the case. The towns say that the county&squo;s zoning just outside their towns does not fit with the towns&39; zoning, especially since the county implemented seven-acre minimum lot sizes for major subdivisions recently.

&dquo;Adoption of this type of lot minimum clearly makes it difficult if not financially impossible for cities to protect their financial and quality-of-life interests,&dquo; says the letter.

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Saluda officials say they also requested ETJ from the county in the mid-1990s, but were not granted the right then.

The letter, signed by Columbus Mayor Kathleen McMillian and Saluda Mayor Rodney Gibson, says it is unclear how the three new county commissioners would view the ETJ request, but the towns believe a local government act is the best course of action.

It is also unclear at this point whether Guice or Senator Tom Apodaca have sponsored any such bills for the towns. The letter sent by Columbus and Saluda says that the towns wanted the bill to be introduced during legislation&squo;s short session, which is currently ongoing, but decided it would be more appropriate to wait.

Columbus council discussed recently in a retreat that they want to be granted ETJ rights, and they would like to work with Saluda on the issue. Columbus officials say it&squo;s important to have ETJ authority so the town can establish some consistency and compatibility between land uses inside the town and those immediately outside the town.

&dquo;Both towns appreciate your support and assistance with what our council has identified for several years now as a top priority,&dquo; says the town&squo;s letter to Guice.

The Town of Tryon is the only municipality in Polk County that has ETJ rights as it zones a one-mile radius outside its city limits on the North Carolina side. Some of Tryon&squo;s city limits end at the South Carolina state line.