The Mount Airy school system is back

The Mount Airy school system is back
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At last week’s meeting of the Surry County Council of Commissioners, an issue under discussion brought out a topic from last year: ETJ.

ETJ stands for extraterritorial jurisdiction. For some of the people who appeared before county officials last year, it was more of a four-letter word than three letters.

The late Rawley King and JT Henson spoke with County Council at a January 2019 meeting.

“The city has jurisdiction over 7,000 to 8,000 people who live in a no man’s land with no direct representation,” Henson said. “City officials are not accountable to YSS residents through the ballot box.”

People who live within that one mile limit must obtain permits from the city and are affected by decisions made by the city like water and sewer rates, King said. Yet people like him cannot vote in municipal elections.

When the ETJ was created, forced annexation was still allowed, King said. Now that such an annexation is not allowed, he considers the ETJ to be unnecessary.

Well, that’s where it helps to be old. I started at The News in 1995. After a fellow journalist left a year later, I started covering the Mount Airy Council of Commissioners meetings.

King, Henson, all of County Council: None of these people were at these meetings when city staff first brought up the idea of ​​an ETJ. But I was.

Several times last year during the arguments for and against an ETJ, the term forced annexation was brought up. Do you know where it didn’t happen? At the workshops I attended where the city planned an ETJ.

Is it true, all this talk about the abolition of the ETJ because the city cannot make forced annexations? City staff weren’t pushing for this in the first place.

In fact, the way the annexation came about is if the city did its job of planning for growth, people would come to the city asking to join.

The expression that came up often was “urban sprawl”. The town planning council explained that some cities have a plan for how outward growth should occur, and others do not. No planning can lead to random development zones distributed around an area with a poor definition between commercial and residential use.

The expansion part also refers to how growth sometimes spreads out and makes it difficult to offer municipal services easily such as fire protection and police and garbage service.

Another element that was mentioned is that some residents feel that buildings and constructions just outside the city limits are damaging the value of their properties. If the city had some control over what might happen against its borders, then landowners could be protected.

And let’s face it, there is a big difference between living in a city and living in a rural county.

I was at a meeting 22-23 years ago where a city committee was debating the exact height of the grass before it was too tall and should be against city regulations. If the grass is too tall, the property itself could pose a danger to public health due to the risk of vermin and snakes that pursue vermin, committee members said.

Cities have rules for garbage collection and dogs on a leash – some places have rules for collecting dog poop.

If people live close to each other, certain considerations must be taken. Remember that one of the pillars of our legal system is that I have all kinds of freedoms – until they infringe on your freedoms.

Having a party is legal, but if the noise of the party disturbs your neighbors, you have violated their right to be disturbed.

I live in the county and I happen to like it that way.

I have four neighbors with target ranges within half a mile of my house. On sunny days, there can be a bit of noise outside. I have a neighbor with roosters who don’t know when to stop crowing. Another neighbor likes dating (social distance is damned).

It does not bother me. Live and let live.

I was visiting a neighbor one day when he mentioned that he could hear me the night before crying on my electric guitar all through his house.

I started to cringe and apologize, but he shrugged and said, “That looked pretty good.” And that was it.

———

One thing that bothered me last year is that we don’t really know what the masses thought about the abolition of the YSS.

As a journalist, I simply tell the facts. I report the news, I don’t do it, so I didn’t question the process.

Yet it surprised me that the matter was not votable. Why not ask the question on the ballot for the people of the city limits and those in the YSS electoral districts?

Even in a non-presidential year when the turnout may only be a quarter or a third of the population, this remains a better indication of how people really feel than just letting a dozen or two dozen disgruntled talk. .

Did they really speak for the greatest number? Or was it a case where the squeaky wheel got grease?

Commissioner Eddie Harris brought up an interesting point last week when he pointed out that three residents were complaining about harmful neighborly property. There are no county ordinances applicable to the location in question, but if the YSS was still in place, then the codes enforcement officer could go visit the site and see if the city’s stricter regulations were violated.

Instead, neighbors may be forced to pursue legal action against the property as a public nuisance, which they might lose.

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