State Senator Dan Soucek’s bill to strip Boone of its powers of extraterritorial jurisdiction failed the House Government Committee late yesterday in what WRAL-TV is calling evidence of a split in the Republican party. Senate Bill 865 would have banned Boone from exercising any planning or zoning authority over land adjoining the city limits, beginning in January 2015. Soucek said the bill was needed claiming the town has been declaring some land off-limits for development harming property value. The station quoted Soucek as saying, "We have people being ruled over by people [they] can't elect." But Rep. Edgar Starnes, who was not on the committee, attended the meeting and spoke against the bill, warning that it would ultimately hurt existing property values. Starnes said, "This would be the only time in the history of North Carolina that we have removed a town's ETJ authority," calling it, “A dangerous precedent."
The TV station reports that the roll call vote found 12 votes for the measure, but 15 lawmakers voted against it, including all Democrats on the committee and several establishment Republicans, including Reps. Mitch Setzer of Catawba County, but they also pointed out that other key Republicans left the room before the recorded vote. Because the proposal failed a committee vote, legislative rules say it's dead for the remainder of the session, ending Soucek’s second attempt to end ETJ control for Boone.
Mayor Andy Ball, there at the vote, said, "The Town of Boone is very pleased with the outcome of this vote," and "We thank members for protecting the property rights of all ETJ residents."