Under the wire
One day after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that immediately halted forced annexations, the Granbury City Council forcibly annexed almost 2,500 acres of land containing more than two dozen homes.
The council was able to do so because the process to involuntarily annex the five parcels of land had been started before House Bill 347 became law.
The council approved the annexations in separate votes at its regular meeting Tuesday night.
All five vote tallies were the same, with council member Tony Allen being the lone dissenting voice in each decision.
Annexation opponents filled seats in the council chamber just as they did during two public hearings held on May 7.
However, according to City Manager Chris Coffman and Mayor Pro Tem Tony Mobly, the city also received communications from people who favored the annexations.
The audience at times bordered on being unruly. According to protocol, audience members address the council from the podium after being called upon. However, several people made loud comments from their seats while officials at the dais were speaking.
Mayor Nin Hulett denied one man’s request that the public hearing be reopened.
At one point Hulett admonished the audience for its statements and its applause for Allen. He told audience members that they were not to be “a cheer-leading squad.”
Allen’s term expires this year, and the filing period for the November elections opens next month. He has indicated that, despite previous statements to the contrary, he may seek another term or even run for mayor.
The council had been considering the annexations for some time. Mobly said Wednesday that discussions dated back at least 18 months.
City Manager Chris Coffman stated during a discussion about the annexations at a council meeting in April that incorporations are a way for the city to control development and transportation corridors, preventing “urban sprawl.”
Traffic issues have been a growing concern among local elected officials as well as residents. The U.S. Census Bureau recently determined that Hood County is the ninth fastest-growing county in the nation.
A thoroughfare plan map approved on Nov. 1, 2016 and posted on the city’s website shows a proposed thoroughfare between Paluxy Highway and Highway 377 that cuts through the parcel of land in Section 4 of the annexations.
As the city moved forward with the annexation plan, property owners with agricultural exemptions were sent development agreements. The agreements stay the annexations for up to 10 years provided landowners don’t develop or subdivide their property and maintain the ag exemptions.
About 1,700 acres of the 2,470 acres annexed are tied to ag exemptions, according to the city.
During the April council meeting, Coffman stated that the land sections in question could soon be targeted for apartments and subdivisions.
Through annexation, a developer would be able to tie onto the city’s infrastructure and extend services to a subdivision, he said.
Coffman also stated that those whose homes were annexed would pay regular rates for city water rather than the 1.5 percent charged to customers within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).
‘TYRANTS,’ OR PLANNERS?
With the exception of outbursts from the audience and comments from Allen, the votes taken Tuesday night were uneventful.
None of the other council members made public mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org comments. Council members Mobly, Bruce Wadley and Greg Corrigan quickly made or seconded motions to annex the sections.
Criticism of the takeovers was voiced on various Face-book pages, with council members referred to as “tyrants” and “the ruling elite.”
“The fix was in,” one person posted.
Another posted, “Follow the money.”