Confusion over what properties are subject to a proposed unilateral annexation by Kyle led to vitriolic debate Aug. 28 as city leaders attempted to sort it all out.
Many residents impacted by the proposal maintained their opposition, with some alleging the city is moving too fast to complete the annexation before a new state law goes into effect.
Those worries were brought up during the second of two scheduled public hearings on the matter at Kyle City Hall. While no decision was made Aug. 28, the city is slated to take up the item again for a possible vote Sept. 17 and Oct. 1.
Several impacted residents who spoke during the public hearing felt Kyle’s proposed annexation, which currently encompasses 1,400 acres and a handful of properties, does not offer any benefits.
The Hays Free Press reported those who could be subject to the annexation would not receive water, wastewater service or road maintenance at this time. Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said the timing of the unilateral, or forced, annexation was expedited due to passage of House Bill 374, which prohibits cities from using that type of annexation.
Kyle Assistant City Manager James Earp said any annexations started after the law goes into effect Sept. 1 can only be done by the request of a property owner.
Javier Salazar, who lives on Traynor Road, an area within a property proposed to be annexed, said he and his wife saw no benefit to the annexation and they would be paying additional city taxes. Ed Graning, who owns property on Traynor, also questioned the necessity of the annexation.
“There is a lot of vacant land you can do anything you want to out here,” Graning said. “But we’ve been what we’ve been for so many years, it would be cruel to do what you’re talking about.”
Salazar also felt the city’s annexation had a “tyrannical” feel to it, citing recent comments by Mitchell that the move is attempting to prevent “predatory” development from setting up outside of town.
Salazar also had issues with the city trying to get the annexation done before the Sept. 1 deadline. Kyle resident Lila Knight said mistakes “are bound to be made” if city staff rushes to complete the annexation.
“This seems like a desperate ploy to get it done without crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s,” Salazar said.
Salazar, Knight and several other residents complained about the lack of clarity regarding the annexation and which parcels are now part of it.
Part of the confusion stemmed from a nearly hour long debate among city leaders prior to the public hearing, propagated by a handful of issues brought up by council member Daphne Tenorio.
One allegation was that city staff had illegally added parcels amounting to 600 acres to an annexation list without council earlier this year. City Manager Scott Sellers said city leaders had knowledge of all 1,400 acres in the annexation item when the process was approved.
Tenorio and several residents also cited fluctuations in the city’s map showing the proposed annexation areas, saying the changes were confusing.
The argument then turned to a social media post by Mitchell who allegedly wrote that the city is working with landowners who can be “justifiably” removed from annexation consideration. Tenorio sought insight on the meaning of the post, sparking a war of words between Tenorio and Mayor Pro Tem Dex Ellison over the validity of discussing the item on the dais. Mitchell told the Hays Free Press the city is still in the process of fleshing out which properties could be included in the annexation.
“In my opinion, if I were a landowner, I would question this whole process. Show me how to justifiably remove myself,” Tenorio said. “This (post) is in the public domain and written by the mayor and put all over Facebook. That’s the problem, you can’t do this.”
Council member Alex Villalobos felt the social media post questioned the process and created a conflict of interest. Villalbos worried actions taken by the city toward this annexation might have been the reason HB 347 passed in the first place.
“Annexation comes, but how do we keep it a balanced and equal approach and have services for landowners?” Villalbos said.