Hundreds of north Bexar County residents gathered Friday night to send a message loud enough to be heard in City Hall: We do not want to be part of San Antonio.
Areas of north Bexar County are being eyed by the city of San Antonio for annexation. These citizens came together to plan how to prevent it from happening.
|Republished from Express-News, Friday, September 25, 2015, by Vianna Davila|
There are two kinds of annexation: limited-purpose and full. Under limited-purpose, the city has up to three years to decide whether it wants to annex all, some or part of an area. They can also plan for the type of city services that area will eventually need. With limited-purpose annexation, residents will NOT pay city taxes but they WILL get to vote in City Council elections and will be subject to some city development codes. Under full annexation, the city can collect taxes but it must also immediately provide certain services like police, fire, EMS and solid waste collection. The city plans to do limited-purpose annexation of Alamo Ranch and the other four areas before pursuing full annexation.
At a raucous anti-annexation rally, where speakers invoked everything from the Bible to the U.S. Constitution, hundreds of north Bexar County residents gathered Friday night to send a message loud enough to be heard in City Hall: We do not want to be part of San Antonio.
While Mayor Ivy Taylor recently suggested that the city leave out many residential areas from its current annexation plan, speakers continued to push for more assurance, specifically a change in state law that would give residents the right to vote on whether to be absorbed into the city.
“We are not to have a Lord over us, other than the one that resides in Heaven, and we are to be in charge!” declared KTSA radio host Trey Ware, one of several speakers whose words were met with loud applause at the event, held at Canyon Springs Golf Club.
At least 200 people attended the rally, based on how many available seats were occupied, and dozens of people were standing. One organizer said 500 people had shown up.
The event, organized by neighborhood associations along the U.S. 281 corridor, was put together in response to the city of San Antonio’s plans to annex at least 87 square miles of unincorporated Bexar County over the coming two years.
Many of the residents at the rally wanted the same things: no city taxes, no city regulation. They said they are happy with the services they are currently provided and worried the city would not be able to give them adequate police or fire protection or street maintenance.
Under state law, cities must provide areas with equal or better service once they are fully annexed.
No final decision has been made on the mayor’s proposal to overhaul the city’s annexation plan, but City Council will discuss the issue and “alternative annexation scenarios” at a meeting Wednesday.
The options include “canceling” the city’s current annexation plan altogether or moving forward with the plans on a different timeline “based on property types,” according to a meeting agenda posted online.
In an interview Friday, city planning director John Dugan said the city is still running the numbers on Taylor’s proposal.
Friday’s rally was planned long before Taylor’s announcement. Specifically, the mayor wants the city to look at only annexing commercial corridors, not residential homes, in three out of five areas that the city has been discussing adding since last year, including the U.S. 281 corridor.
She also recommended the city abandon plans to absorb another six sections of Bexar County that were just proposed for annexation last month.
Michael Soulek, one of the neighborhood leaders who has organized opposition to the city’s original proposal, said he believes splitting commercial from residential areas is a “reasonable compromise.”
Dugan said Friday that carving out commercial areas would “reduce the potential” for some of these areas to incorporate as their own cities because they would lose their commercial tax base.
One of the concerns among some annexation advocates, which includes Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, is that residential areas that are not annexed could eventually deteriorate.
Counties in Texas have limited powers; unlike cities, they cannot regulate zoning. As an example, Wolff has repeatedly mentioned Camelot II, an area in northeast Bexar County that’s home to many renters and has been haunted by crime and trash problems.
Some city officials also worry that legislation that restricts annexation powers could be successful in 2017.
State Rep. Lyle Larson and state Sen. Donna Campbell, who both sponsored bills last legislative session to give people the right to vote on whether or not they should be annexed, said at Friday’s rally they had every intention to file the legislation again.
During Campbell’s remarks, a clap of thunder sounded.
“I see God’s on our side, don’t you?” she said.
|Republished from Express-News, CLICK HERE to Read the Original.|
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