Candidates have mixed views on ETJ for towns

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2010

If Columbus and Saluda seek authority again for regulating land uses up to one mile outside the towns, they likely will need the support of Polk County commissioners.
The towns previous attempts to gain extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) were not supported by county commissioners. Tryon already has the authority, but it appears the other two towns in the county may have to wait until a change at the county board level.
As part of coverage of the May 4 primary election, the Bulletin recently asked county commissioner candidates whether they would support ETJ requests from the towns.
Columbus has appealed to the county for ETJ twice in the past couple years, but the county board was not even willing to hold a public hearing to initiate the process.
Last year both Columbus and Saluda appealed to state representatives to introduce a local bill granting them ETJ authority. However, state senator Tom Apodaca and representative David Guice declined to grant their request.
Columbus took time to survey residents about whether to pursue ETJ, but the survey, which included requests for demographic information, drew criticism. The town council eventually dropped the ETJ idea completely.
Its unclear whether Columbus or Saluda officials would be interested in pursuing ETJ again if a new county board is more receptive.
Below are the responses from the four Republican and four Democratic candidates for the county board. Voters will choose three candidates from each party in the May 4 primary.
Question: Would you support a request from Tryon or Saluda for extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) so the towns can regulate land uses up to one mile from their current corporate limits?
Ray Gasperson
At the present, I believe that the Polk County Government should focus on planning for higher density near our three towns where the infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, etc.) can support growth. This viewpoint is supported by the 20/20 Vision Plan. However, it is vital that we at all times are careful to preserve the overall rural nature of our county .
Since the Polk County departments of Planning and Building Inspections are capable of handling the increased workload that could happen as the county moves toward allowing more growth near Columbus and Saluda (Tryon already has a one mile ETJ), I do not at this time see the need to support any request from these towns for an ETJ.
However, I strongly believe that the BOC and town officials should always keep the lines of communication open, and as a Commissioner, I will always be receptive to listening to the land use planning concerns of our towns and how the County can be of assistance.
Margaret Johnson
While I understand and support the towns desire to have beautiful and welcoming areas leading into and surrounding their communities, I would like to look for another way of achieving this, other than ETJ. Tryon currently has an ETJ, but Saluda and Columbus do not. I believe the towns and county can work together to be “on the same page” about land use issues. I am not convinced that ETJ would be in the best interest of the people that it would affect, and I would have to hear from those people before making a decision. While an ETJ may not necessarily lead to annexation, I do not support forced annexation.
Rickie McFalls
I would ask the commission to meet jointly with Tryon and Saluda, to discuss the (ETJ). The decision will need to be made by the entire county commission and the towns representatives. The interests of all must be considered. We need to have all the information before we make a decision.
Benny Smith
Tryon has had ETJ since the early 1970s and it worked well within that particular territory. If Columbus or Saluda asked for ETJ, we must have a public hearing to receive input from those being affected. Transparency is critical when considering matters of this nature. Citizens should have the opportunity to express concerns and verbalize comments.
Harry Denton
No, I wouldnt support requests by Tryon or Saluda for ETJ. This hot topic has been settled and resolved by the will of the people living in the proposed areas.
David Moore
Only if the residents in the affected area approve such a move. They should have a voice in a request that affects their property.
Ted Owens
This should only happen when people on both sides of the line want it and will vote for it. The state should change its laws concerning this and then I think everyone will be better satisfied.
Tom Pack
I would support the will of the people that live in the ETJ area.

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