Midlothian city council members officially annexed four areas into the city limits as a meeting Tuesday night.
The combined annexations added about 700 acres and 140 residential homes to the city. Council member Mike Rodgers opposed all the annexations and council member TJ Henley voted against annexing the largest area. All four areas were annexed under separate 90-day annexation processes.
Voting on the annexations occurred after a resident of the largest annexation area, Victor Collingham, was escorted out of the council chamber by police for disrupting the meeting after he refused to sit down and allow the meeting to continue. Collingham attempted to address the council following an announcement by Mayor Bill Houston that the council would not allow public comment because the two public hearing required by state law for annexations had been held previously.
Rodgers said he voted against the annexations because he believes all annexations not initiated by the property owners should undergo the 3-year annexation process laid out in Texas law. The 3-year annexation process is required by state law if more there are more than 100 residential homes in a given annexation area, but the state allows cities to annex areas with less than 100 residences by a 90-day process as described in Chapter 43 of the Texas Local Government Code.
“I believe everyone has certain inalienable property rights,” Rodgers said. “I think everyone should have a level playing field and the same process. Just because you happen to live in a smaller area that was developed after the land around you was annexed, you shouldn't be treated differently.”
The longer process includes a negotiated service plan between the city and residents.
Henley questioned city staff about why a 90-day process was used for the largest of the four annexations before voting against that item. That area includes 437 acres and 96 residential homes along Springbrook Road and Waterworks Road and extending west towards the Martin Marietta quarry land.
The state allows 90-day annexations to allow cities to absorb areas that were left over from 3-year annexations and other sparsely populated tracts, said city attorney Joe Gorfida.
“The purpose it to include those areas left out as city's expanded and to more forward with developing annexation,” Gorfida said.
The annexation lines were drawn based on existing roads and property lines, said city planning manager Alberto Mares, and in this case stayed north of Farm-to-Market road 875. Staff did not include other surrounding property owned by Martin Marietta cement plant and quarry because the city and the company are currently discussing a volunteer annexation of the property, he said.
“That is why it looks a little odd right now,” Mares said.
Because the area was so close to the 100 residences mark, Henley said he wanted the council to consider rejecting the 90-day annexation and restart the annexation using the 3-year process, he said.
“It doesn't meet the donut hole way of looking at these properties like the other three we are considering. Even if Martin Marietta chooses to annex, it doesn't become a donut hole,” Henley said, referring to the areas completely surrounded by property in the by city limits but that had not been annexed yet. “I believe everyone in the ETJ needs to realize they will have the opportunity to become a part of some city and I would like them to be part of Midlothian. But because it is so close, I would like council to consider a 3-year annexation.”
City council members Joe Frizzell and Jimmie McClure remembered seeing Springbrook Road and Waterworks Road area come up for annexation in the 90s, they said.
Some of the same property owners spoke at the public hearings this time around that spoke decades before, McClure said.
“At that time, it was decided to delay it. This annexation should not be a total sup prize to property owners,” Frizzell said, though he allowed some of the newer residents may be unaware of the area's history.
Two lots in the smallest annexed area near Bryson Road were granted annexation development agreements, which allow the property owners Guy F. Powers and Mary Powers to delay annexation and property taxes for those lots for a time specified in the agreement as long as the property does not change uses. After the agreed upon 10 years, the properties will be voluntarily annexed into the city, Mares said. To qualify for the agreements, Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 43 requires properties have an agricultural, wildlife management or timber land use designations.
Several other properties in the annexed area qualified for the agreements, but the city received no request for the property owners, Mares said.
City council members also instructed staff to begin examining another 3-year annexation plan to annex all remaining ETJ property on the northeast side of the city. City staff was directed to reach out to the cities of Waxahachie and Ovilla to address possible ETJ boundary exchanges to prevent neighborhoods or lots from being in different cities. The main neighborhood in question was the Chrystal Forest development that straddles Midlothian and Ovilla ETJs, Mares said.
Council members also instructed staff to begin considering the organization of a community board to review potential bond needs for the city. City manager Chris Dick said he anticipated the bond would go to before voters in November of 2017.
– Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.