Friday, May 22, 2009

ETJ, Annexation, & Municiperialism

ACIR = Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations; (A Federal level committee).

ETJ = extra territorial jurisdiction; (land outside the city limits that the city planners regulate by ordinances that the landowners being affected had no voice or vote to agree with them)

Municiperialism = (An assumption that city government should have priority in regulating and controlling land use and behavior of area landowners and citizens with or without their consent).

In order to understand the debate about land use planning just outside of city limits and who controls it, one has to look further up the chain of discussion about local government and land use planning.

There has been an ongoing debate raging for decades about metropolitan area governance and whether it is better to consolidate governance by transferring control to the existing cities or to encourage city/county consolidation or to allow the public choice option of having a metropolitan area fragmented into many small municipalities with tiers of regional authorities managing and providing infrastructure like transportation and water and sewer. The debate rages on with no real consensus. This has always been an issue that the ACIR includes in the reports that they put out. The ACIR was formed for the purpose of trying to resolve the roles and responsibilities of the Federal, State, and local governments and how they interact with each other. The existing cities would love to be given all the power and revenue.

What ever happened to local control and public choice about which of these governmental entities is ultimately regulating what the individual can do with his property? The growing intervention by the Federal government into local land use planning is very troubling to me. And the role of municipal corporations has been transformed to where far too much authority has been transferred to them for no good reason. WHY should a governmental entity that began as a voluntary association of property owners be given the authority to dictate land use outside of their corporate limits? Because the city said so? Who ordained the cities as the highest and the best choice for local government?

Where did the idea that cities have some moral authority to become a mandatory level of government, instead of voluntary, come from? The cities are getting away with this because WE let them and we buy into the idea that all land use must be predetermined by some higher authority. The city lobbyists have successfully elevated the cities above their proper place in the Counties in the minds of the State, if not as much in the Federal government. They are doing this by selling confusion and fear to our lawmakers using lies at worst and smoke and mirrors at best. What makes them so darn special that they should be allowed to do this?

The Counties have always been the local government entity tasked with the responsibility of administering the laws and services of the State of NC. The city lobbyists want to shove the County government into the back seat and impose themselves on landowners against their will.
Why should we accept this?

If the County enforces the building code, polices health, sanitation and safety, why do property owners have to be regulated by land use plans drawn up by a small group of bureaucrats who think they know best? Are individuals incapable of deciding the best use of their own land? Are entrepreneurs incapable of responding to market demands and providing services and amenities that others will want to buy?
Changing the annexation law is enough of an issue to work on by itself and we can do that without wading into the issue of making recommendations about who should zone and regulate landowners. There are Counties in this State that are full of property owners who feel no need to have their property regulated by zoning and land use ordinances and they actively oppose it. Do we want to lose the support of this large group of people who make up the base of support for putting an end to forced annexation?

I don’t. And I don’t see any compelling reason that the annexation reform movement should start making recommendations about who should be in charge of land use planning.