Weaverville – ETJ is a term that’s not been used for a while. ETJ stands for extraterritorial jurisdiction. The term went out of style when the state took away the town’s and city’s right to involuntarily annex land into their town or city limits in 2013. At the same time, they took away the authority of a municipality to extend their land regulations into these ETJ areas.
The Town of Weaverville looks to revive these ETJ areas to examine potential growth area locations within the former ETJ. The matter came up at the town’s July workshop, where MountainTrue’s Healthy Communities Director Chris Joyell spoke to the council on Small Area Studies.
Joyell’s presentation comes on the heels of a May 24th four-hour retreat by the town, where Joyell facilitated a development retreat with some of the town’s Board of Commissioners and some members of the town’s planning board.
According to notes from the workshop’s agenda, the Weaverville Water System “…provides leverage in guiding development beyond the town limits…”, leading Joyell to examine “five potential growth areas located within the former ETJ.”
“In the next 20 years, the state is projecting that 80,000 people will be moving to Buncombe County,” Joyell told the board. “I think it prudent to anticipate that a lot of that development pressure will be coming to the north end of the county, and with everything Weaverville has to offer, I think there’s going to be a lot of people that would like to be able to live very close to town, if not in town. So that opens us up to envision what forms of development you’d like to see in this former ETJ area.”
Joyell explained that the small area plans could be adopted into the comprehensive plan to shape future development in Weaverville. He also said Buncombe County and consultants with the county were “excited to hear” Weaverville was working on a Small Area Plan. “They would love to be able to see what that looks like…with your permission, I would be happy to share with them the notice for your workshop.”
Weaverville Vice Mayor Jeff McKenna asked Joyell how the Small Areas Plan would be marketed to developers. Joyell said that was the “tricky part” since the town is developing plans for areas they have no control over. He recommended that the town use the water as leverage to “strike a deal” with developers in return for voluntary annexation.”
Mayor Patrick Fitzsimmons asked how that would work with the county’s plan. Joyell admitted it would have been better to have Weaverville’s Small Area Plan in place before the county, but he expects the county to have its plan finalized this winter. However, he said that having them informed about the town’s plans would help. Joyell said the county was looking at about four areas to develop Small Area Plans for, including Emma, Swannanoa, and Candler.
What areas is Weaverville looking at?
Growth areas specifically outlined in Joyell’s presentation were:
Zone 1 — Gill Branch Valley (currently zoned R-3 by the county).
Zone 2 — Monticello West (also zoned R-3 by the county).
Zone 3 — Ollie Weaver (zoned R-3 by the county).
Zone 4 — I-26 corridor (currently zoned mix of R-3 and CS) and
Zone 5 — Reems Creek (zoned R-3 and R-2 predominately).
He not only outlined these areas as potential areas for voluntary annexation, but he also outlined what desired future conditions he believed would benefit Weaverville. Gill Branch Valley would serve as “an extension of the ‘DNA of Weaverville.’ Opportunities for density and commercial activity were identified in the northern portion of the growth area, with a transition to primarily residential and recreational areas in the southern portion.”
Monticello West was identified as an area where “…more density concentrated closer to exiting R-12 zones moving north, away from Monticello Rd.” Ollie Weaver Road is said to be a candidate for R-1 and R-2 zoning in the future.” I-26 Corridor was not assigned zoning and left as “open use.” Reems Creek Road where “existing R-3 could accommodate denser town home development.” A “potential mobile home overlay district and could have “connectivity” using a greenway connecting Reems Creek and Gill Branch Rd.
Councilman Andrew Nagle pointed out in Zone 1 that Weaverville did not supply water, but Woodfin Water did. And while Weaverville has an agreement with the Town of Woodfin not to annex property in that zone, Woodfin Water was not a part of the Town of Woodfin. “Why would any developer want to be annexed by the town of Weaverville in that first zone?” asked Nagle.
Fitzsimmons agreed that there was no incentive but hoped to get an agreement from Woodfin Water not to provide water in this area. He said that he had spoken with them and that they were open to such an agreement.