Little to no services associated with a proposed 1,400-acre unilateral annexation of land east of Kyle drew the ire of residents who are fighting a plan they feel has no benefit.
Many who oppose Kyle’s proposal Aug. 20 also fear the city is rushing an attempt to forcibly acquire land before a new state law regulating such annexations goes into effect.
According to city documents, eight parcels of land east of Interstate 35 were included in the initial unilateral, or forced, annexation proposal.
Per a proposed municipal services plan, impacted residents and landowners would receive emergency services protection, including from the Kyle Fire Department, which is not funded by the city, but would not receive water or wastewater services at this time. Kyle would also not be responsible for maintaining roads.
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said recent actions during the 86th Texas Legislature “escalated” the city’s time frame for annexing property they had planned to eventually acquire. Mitchell said they wanted to annex the land to limit development in the outskirts of the city and not “based on a desire to increase property tax revenue.”
House Bill 374, which was signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in May, limits how municipalities can annex properties into their jurisdictions. That includes ending the practice of unilateral annexations, which Mitchell said has been a tool used by Kyle to slow down “predatory” development building outside city limits and regulations.
Mitchell said HB 374 is a “carefully politically crafted law that allows development to continue unfettered.” Mitchell said annexation is also not taking property, but “recognizing a property is part of the community and needs to participate with a certain amount of rules and regulations.”
“While individual landowners think annexation is not in their best interest, the moment a developer tries to put a subdivision out there and we don’t have the ability to control development, they will change their mind,” Mitchell said.
Multiple landowners expressed concern with the terms of the plan, leading more than 200 residents to sign a petition against Kyle’s proposed move.
Ed Graning, an affected landowner whose property is mostly vacant, said he understood the city’s need for growth, but felt impacted residents were “going to get nothing and all we’re getting is taxes.” Graning said those points were confirmed to him by Community Development Director Howard Koontz.
Daniel Saucedo, who spoke on behalf of 11 families on a street within an impacted parcel, opposed the move, saying they don’t see any benefit of the annexation. Residents on that street also currently pay to maintain their caliche road, one of the few in the county, which Saucedo said won’t be paved by Kyle.
Kyle resident Dave Douglas, who said he doesn’t have a dog in the fight, felt city officials should focus on fixing infrastructure in town, instead of acquiring more land. Kyle City Council candidate Yvonne Flores-Cale said the city needed to “take a step back” and asked what the rush is to annex the properties.
In a letter to city officials, residents who signed the petition said what the city is proposing “does not help you or us in any way.”
“I think it’s wrong to start taking on these extra properties and annexing them when we’re not taking care of what we have now,” Douglas said.
Mitchell said the city is determining which properties would be annexed. Mitchell estimated there could be “quite a few” properties in the proposal that might be dropped from the plan. City leaders are currently reaching out to landowners to discuss the topic further.
Going through annexation proceedings other than unilateral was “logically inconsistent,” as developers who might purchase a landowner’s property down the road won’t want to join the city, Mitchell said.
In addition, Mitchell said extending utility services to properties in the unilateral annexation would have to be incorporated in a long-term plan that he said would take time to develop.
Kyle resident Peter Parcher, however, said city leaders should listen to those who don’t want to join the city right now as they’re getting “the bad end of the deal.”
“They don’t want it. They live there, you don’t. I don’t,” Parcher said. “We need to listen to them and you need to listen to us.”