Huntsville Citizens Voice Opposition to Annexation
The Huntsville City Council held a second public hearing on their proposed annexation of over 7,000 acres on Tuesday. Huntsville Councilmember Ray Allen, who sat in the audience, and nine other area residents spoke in opposition to the proposed annexation plan. Allen’s opposition the annexation plan centered around the city council’s changing the title of city employees after they passed the annexation resolution in order to conform with the exact verbiage of the new annexation law, HB 347.
Allen said, ”When the mayor, the city manager, the city attorney, realized that the resolution passed in May by this council, was worded wrong, and may not be able to legally go forth with the annexation plan, they came up with their own plan. They came up with a plan to change the title of the charter officers, the city manager, city sectary, city attorney, and the city judge, to ‘staff’ to go around the new annexation law, even though the law had already been signed by Governor Abbott.”
Allen also recommended that the city council not adopt the annexation plan when he said, “You as a council needs to just follow the new law, like all the other Texas cities, and not try to sidestep a law, that was designed to protect the citizens of this state. You need to live within the law, like every other city in this state, and not go forward with this annexation plan at this time.”
The annexation resolution was adopted by the Huntsville City Council on May 21, 2019, just three days before House Bill (HB) 347 became effective. HB 347 essentially eliminates most unilateral annexations by any city because it requires the consent of a majority of property owners. Any city that adopts an annexation resolution prior to the effective date of May 24, 2019 would be grandfathered under existing law. Under the previous (grandfathered) annexation law, a city was limited to a 30% increase by annexation. The Huntsville City Council Resolution recommended annexing 38 properties totaling about 7,140 acres, a 30% increase in area.
Other area residents opposed the annexation plan based on the unlikelihood that the city would ever provide city services. Linda Powell spoke in opposition to the annexation of the property owned by her 98 year old mother who depends on the income from the property. Powell said, “Let me tell you something about my mother. She will be 98 years old in December. She has lived in this community for 66 years. My mother, she deserves to be left alone.”
Powell went on to say, “ And to think that you guys are so arrogant, that you think you can come in, and take the money from her, which we could spend to keep the old lady at home in her last years. It is just not right. It is disgusting. It is just absolutely disgusting to me.”
Powell and several of the of those who spoke in opposition commented that the annexation plan contained errors because it was rushed in order to get it passed before the new annexation law became effective. Powell said, “Just the arrogance, and how you hastily concocted this annexation plan. It just makes me extremely disappointed in the elected officials of Huntsville.”
There was no citizen who spoke in support of the annexation plan. The next Huntsville City Council meeting will be July 30, 2019.