LELAND — Leland wants to extend its power outside its municipal limits by establishing an extraterritorial jurisdiction in Brunswick County.
But Brunswick County, according to Leland’s meeting records, is not interested.
An extra territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is a legal designation used by municipalities to establish control in areas close to, but outside their corporate limits. Freeman Park, for example, is in an ETJ of Carolina Beach. The land is outside Carolina Beach’s town limits in unincorporated county property and public trust areas, but subject to certain town policies.
Last month, Leland’s Town Council agreed to formally ask the county to grant it authority to establish an ETJ along the southern portion of Highway 17. Informal requests were previously unsuccessful. Mayor Brenda Bozeman would write and send the letter of request.
How ETJs get established
ETJ’s can be established without a counties’ consent if the county lacks one of the following:
- has adopted a land subdivision ordinance
- has adopted a zoning ordinance; and
- is enforcing the State Building Code
Brunswick County has all three. So, Leland is reliant on the county’s approval to get the ETJ it’s asking for on Highway 17.
This isn’t the first time Leland has tried to extend its influence outside its own corporate limits. In July, a group that was born out of the town’s economic development committee, Leland Innovation Park, made its public debut. Leland Innovation Park is a non-profit that has tasked itself with rebranding Brunswick County’s industrial park off of Highway 74-76.
During the group’s introductory meeting, the county’s chairman took issue with how the county’s involvement — or lack thereof — was presented. In April 2018, the town arranged a land-use annexation preemptive agreement with Navassa. Navassa Mayor Eulis Willis, said although his town gave up claim over extraterritorial land in the agreement, expanding its limits in the park was not on Navassa’s radar.
Leland’s corporate limits are in the process of expanding due to voluntary annexation. Multiple annexations are underway in the multistep process, including land southwest of Brunswick Forest on either side of Highway 17, and near Village Road. A town-initiated annexation is also close to realization in Lanvale Forest, with a referendum expected in November.
First impressions on Highway 17
According to a 2005 School of Government survey, a majority of municipalities with ETJSs plan to annex the subject land in their corporate limits. Nearly all municipalities, according to the same study, reported applying zoning, subdivision regulations, sign regulations and mobile home park regulations.
Councilman Michael Callahan brought up the topic of an overlay district up at an August Council meeting. He said residents had shared concerns about the area serving as a “gateway into the town.”
According to a 2014 UNC School of Government analysis on ETJs, cities establish such districts for several reasons. First impressions of a city from an outlying area were originally used as a justification for establishing them.
“One of the justifications for a city to establish extraterritorial planning jurisdiction is to ensure that areas that are urbanizing and may be annexed in the future are not developed in a haphazard, substandard manner,” the SOG analysis states.
On Friday, Leland’s town clerk responded to acknowledge a records request to obtain a copy of Mayor Bozeman’s letter, but the letter itself has not yet been supplied.
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