Sylva considers expanding territorial jurisdiction

Property owners along the fringes of Sylva may soon have to adhere to town zoning regulations. The town board is considering expanding its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

“To protect commercial development,” Sylva Town Manager Paige Roberson explained as the rationale. “To have commercial development look the same as Sylva’s commercial development.”

If approved, an expanded extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, would mean property owners living within these boundaries — property not currently within town limits — will have to adhere to Sylva’s zoning regulations. The properties would not, however, receive town services and the town would not collect any taxes from the property owners. 

“We just want it to look uniform,” Roberson explained to the town board during its July 17 meeting. 

Some zoning requirements that property owners within the expanded ETJ would have to observe include zoning regulations pertaining to sidewalks, landscaping and signs. Roberson said the expansion — which would not be retroactive — would serve to discourage property owners from locating just outside town boundaries in an effort to skirt zoning requirements. 

Sylva is looking to expand its ETJ in three different phases. The first phase would concentrate on N.C. 107, expanding the ETJ to the town of Webster’s border. 

“Because we know 107 is going to develop and we want it to look like Sylva,” Roberson said. 

Phase two will focus on expanding up Ashville Highway, or U.S. 23 Business, in preparation for development there. Phase three will involve the Cope Creek and Dillard Town areas. 

Roberson requested that the ETJ expansions be considered separately because of “time and staff” considerations. 

“It’ll be quicker that way,” she told the board.

Before Sylva’s commissioners make a decision on expanding the ETJ, public hearings must be conducted. At least four weeks prior to the public hearing, property owners within the identified areas will be notified.

Roberson told commissioners not to be “surprised” when property owners began contacting them with questions about the proposed ETJ expansion. She later said, however, that she did not expect much pushback from property owners over the concept. 

“I can’t imagine that, because it really just helps the value of their properties,” Roberson said. 

The first public hearing, for phase one of the proposed ETJ expansion, will be held during the board of commissioner’s Sept. 4 meeting. Phases two and three will be handled some time after that. 

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