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City Council Moves Forward on Annexation (WCP) 8/12/2019

The Huntsville City Council heard the first reading of seven proposed ordinances to annex over 7,500 acres into the city limits on Tuesday August 6, 2019. The city council had earlier met in two workshops and held two public hearings about the proposed annexation ordinances. Several area residents affected by the annexation spoke against the proposed annexation in both public hearings, but the city council is moving forward to annex the properties.

Some of the property owners threatened the city with litigation because the original annexation resolution was reworded after it had passed to meet the exact wording required by House Bill (H.B.) 347. It is not clear if the city council rewording the annexation resolution, after HB 347 became effective by law, was legal. The threat of litigation caused the city council to meet in an executive session for almost two hours.

The Texas House had passed HB 347, which prevents cities from annexing areas against the will of the landowners and residents, on April 9, 2019 and the Senate passed HB 347 on May 14, 2019. Because both chambers passed the legislation by a vote of more than two-thirds, the governor had 10 days to sign the legislation or it would become effective by operation of law on May 24, 2019.

Governor Greg Abbott signed the law on June 3, 2019 after the law had become effective on May 24, 2019. However, cities could annex land before the law became effective by adopting a resolution prior to the effective date of the bill. The Huntsville City Council adopted the annexation resolution on May 21, 2019, just three days before HB 347 became law, but altered the wording after May 24, 2019.

As of today, no civil suits against the city over annexation have been filed at the Walker County Courthouse.

By statute, a second reading of the annexation ordinance must be approved within 20-40 days from the public hearing held on July 16, 2019. The Huntsville City Council is expected to adopt the annexation ordinances on August 20, 2019.

The Huntsville City Council also authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds valued at about $20.5 million.

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