Annexation: The plan is there is no plan

Published on Monday, 3 July 2017 19:12 - Written by FAITH HARPER, fharper@tylerpaper.com

In Tyler, residents and developers guide the annexation of additional land into the city limits.

The city has no formal plans to annex additional land into the city limits, said Heather Nick, managing director of planning and economic development.

“In the state of Texas, you can have an annexation plan even if you have no plan, which is the plan Tyler has - we have a plan that states we don’t have a plan,” Ms. Nick said. “Even though we don’t have a plan, through our planning efforts in the Tyler 1st Plan, we identified priority annexation areas where we have seen growth opportunities.”

Though the city does not have a plan, it has identified priority areas for annexation. They are centered primarily on transportation corridors and include areas along South Broadway Avenue and along Toll 49, areas surrounding the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, North U.S. Highway 69 toward Lindale and the area around Paluxy Drive and Whitehouse ISD.

For the last two years, development and annexations have naturally occurred within those priority areas - primarily off the Old Jacksonville corridor and off Paluxy Drive.

In Tyler, most annexation occurs when developers and homeowners opt to come into the city limits to have access to services.

Since the 1950s, annexation has predominately happened toward the south, although there have also been smaller annexations to the west and east.

“Cities can control development by not annexing or not growing and pushing it into the city areas that are older,” City Manager Ed Broussard said. “We have a philosophy that development is developer-driven. When cities try to lead that process, developers will build if it’s profitable, but if it’s not, they will build in other areas (or cities).”

The biggest incentive to annexation for developers is wastewater services. For a developer, it is much cheaper to tap into the city’s existing system than it is to make an aerobic treatment system (or septic system) from scratch.

There are other incentives though, including water service, police and fire and trash pickup.

All annexed land has to touch the border of the existing city limits, and can either be voluntary or involuntary. But that really relates to which entity initiates the annexation process, Ms. Nick said. If the city starts the process, it’s involuntary. If a developer or group of residents does, it’s voluntary.

RECENT ANNEXATIONS

The most recent annexation was approved this month, and includes a proposed 135-home development, Oak Creek, to be south of the Knollwood subdivision, near the intersection of Old Jacksonville Highway and West Cumberland Road. Knollwood is not included in the annexation and will remain out of the city limits.

The annexation is on both sides of Old Jacksonville Highway, and includes the intersection with West Cumberland Road, which was technically out of the city even though the light is maintained by the street department.

In the summer of 2016, 30 residents off Skidmore Lane were annexed into the city. The road connects to Paluxy Drive near to where the street turns into Farm-to-Market Road 756, which heads to Whitehouse.

In the fall of 2016, the Cumberland Hills subdivision was annexed, which is in the same area, near Paluxy Drive and Toll 49.

The city of Tyler has also annexed 19 acres containing a partially built development in the southeastern portion of the city.

The move appeased concerned neighbors and will give the city greater controls over the development. Then, in March 2017, four half-finished buildings off Paluxy Drive, on Centennial Parkway, were brought into the city. The development would add 100 families to the 19-acre tract near The Village at Cumberland Park shopping center.

In 2017, the city also took in the property for Whitehouse ISD, which is also off Paluxy.

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