After months of claiming that the Texas Legislature was unfairly targeting cities for out of control governance, cities across the state are now rushing to, once again, prove the Texas Legislature correct. Due to a new law becoming effective on December 1, 2017, multiple cities across the state are now racing to annex areas ahead of that date. The intent is to dodge an upcoming law meant to afford property owners their voting right to decide if they wish to be added to the city limits by city councils who took office in elections where these same property owners were never afforded a vote.
The Dallas Builders Association is not an opponent of local control. It is continued local out-of-control that is raising concern.
Senate Bill 6 was approved during the recent 85th special session and signed into law by Governor Abbott. The law amends the Texas Local Government Code's provisions on annexation. It designates cities that are located in tier 2 counties with a population of at least 500,000, or are located in lesser populated counties but plan to annex an area wholly or partly located in a tier 2 county, as a tier 2 municipality. SB6 requires a tier 2 municipality wishing to annex an area with population of less than 200 to obtain the consent to annex through a petition signed by more than 50 percent of the registered voters in the area. If the registered voters of that area do not own more than 50 percent of the land, the petition must be signed by more than 50 percent of the area's land owners. To annex an area with a population of 200 or more, a tier 2 municipality is required to hold an election at which a majority of the votes received from the area's qualified voters must be obtained. SB 6 also authorizes a tier 2 municipality to annex an area if each owner of land requests annexation.
Even as the legislation was being considered, cities began the rush to annex areas. Many property owners feel the only thing they will see in return is higher taxes and unwanted regulation.
State law requires public hearings on the matter. The municipal race to annex ahead of the new statute's deadline is evidenced by one North Texas city holding those public hearings just a week apart, and yet another holding the public hearings on back-to-back nights. This just brings criticism that the cities may not have any intention of considering the concerns of those they are annexing.
Celina, McKinney and Mesquite are municipalities that have recently informed property owners that annexation proceedings are beginning.
Regardless of reason or process for annexation, Dallas BA encourages its members to alert the Association regarding proposed annexation or other regulatory concerns in the areas they build.