With the Town of Clayton leading the growth in western Johnston County, nearby towns are trying to shore up some elbow room.
Archer Lodge incorporated seven years ago as North Carolina’s newest town, and to the east, Wilson’s Mills is asking for a boundary adjustment with neighboring Clayton.
Clayton and Wilson’s Mills have each redrawn proposed extraterritorial jurisdiction lines, and each town believes its should be larger.
Wilson’s Mills drew first, cutting a swiggly line from the Neuse River to Little Creek Church Road. That proposed line splits the U.S. 70 and 70 Bypass intersection and cuts through expected expansion areas of the large Glen Laurel neighborhood.
Clayton’s line brings Wilson’s Mills’ ETJ as close as Clayton’s town limits but includes all of the U.S. 70 intersection and Glen Laurel, arguing the town already had infrastructure in place for that neighborhood.
“We did not fully agree with the alignment of that line and where it should go,” Clayton planning director David DeYoung said of Wilson’s Mill’s. “A lot of it is how does it make sense from where our services and infrastructure are.”
Clayton’s line avoids a couple of already existing neighborhoods in the Vinson Road area, with DeYoung arguing they wouldn’t want to be in either town’s planning control. As for U.S. 70, DeYoung said the intersection would be more controlled by growth from Clayton and should not be bisected.
“We took a look at this from an infrastructure, services and growth perspective that we’re already experiencing in the town of Clayton,” DeYoung said. “We feel our line is a little more appropriate than their line for future annexation area.”
Town Manager Adam Lindsay said Clayton’s line would be sent to Wilson’s Mills for review, rather than the two towns getting together and negotiating a line in a meeting.
“What happens next is kind of unknown,” Lindsay said. “There is no formal meeting set, and they may look at our line and decide they don’t want to talk to us, or they may say we can be on board. We don’t know; they’ve just asked for that response.”
The dispute between the towns, one now Johnston County’s largest and growing steadily and the other growing but limited in the number of services it provides, stems largely from a tug of war over the Gordon Tract last year. That piece of property, on which 177 homes are now being built, eventually went to Clayton, but both towns claimed planning rights.
Wilson’s Mills Town Administrator Alicia Gregory said her town council wanted the boundary worked out in an effort to avoid any further disputes with Clayton, but also to ensure the town’s own growth.
“It’s something that’s very important to the council and the town,” Gregory said. “Both towns are growing. ... Right now, the Town of Wilson’s Mills is the only town in Johnston County that doesn’t have a two-mile ETJ; it only has a one-mile ETJ.”
But that doesn’t leave Wilson’s Mills with much room to grow, though many undeveloped tracts are located between the two towns.
Clayton was very much on the mind of the founders of Archer Lodge when it incorporated in 2010. The town worked out a boundary agreement with Clayton that is much more expansive than its town limits, reaching all the way to the Neuse River.
As of last week, Gregory said, Wilson’s Mills had not yet seen Clayton’s proposed line but looked forward to reaching an agreement.
“We’re just looking forward to working with the Town of Clayton and establishing a growth boundary both towns can agree on,” she said.