A public hearing set for the last Monday of the month was announced at the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen’s meeting last week and an extensive amount of information can be found in today’s edition of the Post.
Basically, what affected property owners want to know is will it raise their taxes and/or restrict their property usage. The answers are no and yes.
According to the notice of the public hearing, should the town establish an ETJ, all properties within that area – that are now subject to county ordinances - would come under planning, zoning and building permit services of the town. “The establishment of the ETJ is not annexation,” the notice states. “Properties located in the ETJ will not be taxed by the Town of West Jefferson. ETJ is a means for municipal regulation of land use and development.”
This means that the affected properties within the approximately 6,000 acres of the proposed ETJ would still be subject to county property tax but would not be subject to town property tax. Properties within the town limits are subject to both forms of taxation, but those in the ETJ are not.
Town officials have been discussing the need for an ETJ around West Jefferson for years. Since Jefferson’s effort in 2005 to block an asphalt plant from locating close to the town, the potential for unwelcome development could be seen. Jefferson rescinded its adoption of the ETJ when it was discovered that there was an improper procedure in adopting the ETJ. There were also complaints from residents about more restricted property usage because of the change in zoning.
Should West Jefferson adopt the ETJ as proposed, property owners would be subject to all town ordinances except nuisance ordinances. The nuisance ordinances include abandoned and junk vehicles, and unsightly areas. Town Planner Matthew Levi said existing businesses would be “grandfathered” and not subjected to current ordinances. A majority of property within the proposed ETJ would be zoned residential-agriculture with some parcels zoned strictly residential where that is the current use, and some will be zoned commercial and industrial.
Levi explained that the ETJ is not a step toward annexation; it simply means that this is an area that could possibly become part of the town’s limits within the next 10 to 20 years and is part of a municipal planning area. The area is one mile around the town. There are areas of West Jefferson that border Jefferson and these areas are not affected as they are already within town limits. There is a map of the proposed ETJ in today’s edition of the Post, and signs marking the intersections are scheduled to go up this week.
“An area within an ETJ designation is subject to the town’s zoning, subdivision and minimum housing code regulations to enable the town to better ensure that development patterns and associated infrastructure will allow the efficient provision of urban services as the town grows,” states an informational sheet about the proposed project.
Levi said there had been approximately 1,269 notices to property owners within the proposed ETJ in a first mailing, and over 1,400 notices sent out to adjoining property owners in a second mailing. Everyone interested is invited to attend the public hearing on Monday, March 29 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria conference area of Jefferson Station (the former Thomasville Furniture plant) in West Jefferson. Comments can be made verbally or in written statements.
At this hearing, the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen will be in session, and could vote on adoption of the ETJ at the conclusion of the hearing. Or they may wait until their next scheduled meeting on Monday, April 5 at 7 p.m. at town hall.
For more information or to see a larger map of the proposed ETJ, come by West Jefferson Town Hall, or call 246-3551.