During a regularly scheduled city council meeting on September 19, the council discussed Senate Bill 2038 that passed the senate in April and recently went into effect on September 1.
The bill allows release of an area from a municipality’s extraterritorial jurisdiction also known as an ETJ, by petition or election to the city.
“We currently have a state mandated development agreement with Hood County that provides for the city to provide the planning of the subdivisions and the development in the ETJ which is basically one mile from the city limits,” City Manager Chris Coffman said. “Now that we have this bill, there are people that are in the ETJ wishing to be dis annexed from that. There is no provision in our code to provide planning and development services in those Swiss cheese holes that are being created in our ETJ. With this layout we’re going to end up with, we’re not going to have a comprehensive thoroughfare plan that can be enforced.”
City Manager Chris Coffman noted that since this bill went into effect, he has already received a large stack of petitions from people seeking dis-annexation. He added that he foresees many more to come. With all the necessary information put together from the petition the city has to dix-annex the area requested from the resident then redraw up a map of the annexation areas in the city limits.
Coffman has met with the county to talk about this issue but wanted to first bring this up with the council before moving any further.
Coffman pointed out that Cresson ETJ is up against Granbury city limits on the east side of town. Before that the city expanded the water Certificate of Convenience and Necessity. The Public Utility Commission told the city the area where they were obligated to provide utilities since that area was annexed.
“Since the disannexation, that CCN has never been reduced,” Coffman added. He pointed out the Putteet Hill built in that area and want out of that to which the city said to fill out the required paperwork.
“They just went ahead and drilled well and never reduced the CCN. That is something that we need to address as part of this bill. We need to look at what we’re doing for Granbury not what we’re doing for Cresson. There needs to be some continuity between Cresson and Hood County and the City of Granbury as it relates to developing in the areas around our community.”
Coffman talked about completely disannexing all the ETJ and pulling in all the CCNS.
“Then we have an incentive to be apart of the city if they want to be a part of the city, we could provide utilities on an agreement type basis. That way when they would be annexed into the city. No longer do you have involuntary annexation. The state has made it to where we are a locked in city. We can no longer extend our city limits unless it’s by a voluntary arrangement,” Coffman said. “The most important thing that we can do is prepare for the next generation for our community. It seems pretty short-sighted to not do anything. I think we need to sit down with some city officials, and I need to kind of plow the ground and I want to make sure you are all good with it. This isn’t an agreement at this point, this is just talking about what we need to do as a city to better prepare us.”
Coffman noted that the worse outcome that could happen is that the county never adopts a master thoroughfare plan and added that the county does not have one currently.
“That’s going to cause all kinds of development issues… We need to play ball together as a community to make sure that the transportation and the public safety needs are met as the communities grow out in the county and as they come into our city and how that’s going to transform. It’s not an easy puzzle to put together,” Coffman said.
City Attorney Jeremy SoRelle later said during the meeting that completely dis-annexing the entire ETJ is not something he would recommend. He noted that the state hasn’t done that themselves, adding that later in the future something may come up in the next legislative session. He also pointed out some development agreements from the last successful annexation the city made back in 2019.
The council talked about forming a committee including three council members and Coffman to work specifically on this topic and meet with the county to talk further.
Mayor Jim Jarratt noted that this is a “fuzzy situation” and that creating a committee and talking with the county would be best.
“The city for decades has hired people to work in the county area of the ETJ at taxpayer expense with the intention of having orderly development in Granbury and when you’re coming into Granbury and some part of the city. With that no longer being a possibility unless there’s some kind of incentive to attract someone to want to be in the city, we really do need to cut our costs of operating the planning department,” he said. “We’re spending money to develop the county and the county lobbied for this bill. I don’t know that all of them did, but I had two commissioners tell me they’re going to get it approved and they did. I think they don’t understand what we’ve been doing for them for decades as doing this planning. My thought process is, let’s cut expenses, let’s take care of Granbury and let the county take care of the county. We’ll figure this out…”
After about 30 minutes of discussion between the council, the council unanimously voted 6-0 to authorize Coffman to amend the state mandated development agreement for the development in the ETJ.
Coffman will now create his committee team and they will ask to meet with the county on this issue.