Southeast ETJ

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North Carolina law gives cities and towns the authority to regulate development certain distances beyond their boundaries. With county commissioners' approval, municipalities with more than 25,000 people can extend this authority, which is called extra-territorial jurisdiction or ETJ, up to three miles beyond their borders. Granting of ETJ does not mean automatic annexation.

The purpose of ETJ is to help cities and towns plan for developing areas that may require municipal services in the future by applying consistent guidelines for development. This helps avoid a mix of development standards - streets and water and sewer lines, for example - that could lead to costly upgrading in the future, upgrades that taxpayers would ultimately have to finance.

Since ETJ areas are not actually part of Cary, residents there do not pay Town taxes and do not participate in Town elections. They are represented in the planning and development process, however, and have representation on Town advisory boards that deal with planning and zoning.

ETJ Request

Date submitted: Fall 2003 (Reaffirmed January 2004)

Area: Generally north of Middle Creek, between Stephenson Road on the west and Bell's Lake Road on the east. Above 1010 Road, eastern boundary follows Holly Springs Road. See a map.

Text of the Town's ETJ request is structured according to Wake County criteria for ETJ expansion. Maps and other supporting information have been submitted with the text.

Acreage: The ETJ request covers 6,995 acres. That includes:

  • More than 1,600 acres that already is in Cary
  • 120 acres for which agreements exist to annex when Town limits reach those properties
  • About 50 acres in the path of the Southern Wake Expressway (future I-540)

Why ETJ Extension Makes Sense in this Area

The Town's land use and road plans include the area where it is seeking ETJ extension. Wake County already has designated the area covered by the extension request as part of Cary's urban service area. The Town has some water and sewer lines in the area and has budgeted for extension of more lines there. Additionally, portions of this area have already been annexed and include facilities such as schools and parks.

Discussions with Other Towns

The request is based on a resolution that the Town Council adopted in May 2003 requesting that Wake County expand Cary's planning and development jurisdiction to the southeast.

Since the resolution, Cary and Holly Springs have reached an agreement setting out where the towns could explore providing urban services over time. State law allows towns to establish such boundaries to avoid conflict and confusion over which town might annex a particular area and provide services. The boundary does not necessarily mean that a town can, or will, annex certain land on its side.

The ETJ request reflects the boundary negotiated with Holly Springs.


Planning and Development Services Department
P.O. Box 8005
Cary, NC 27512
311 or (919) 469-4046