Planning commission OKs annexation plan
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

May 16, 2006 -- By November, the overall size of Sulphur Springs is expected to grow by almost 10 percent following action by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission Monday.

The commission is sending a recommendation to the Sulphur Springs City Council that more than 1,270 acres of land -- primarily along the right-of-way of the proposed State Highway 11 extension -- be brought into the corporate limits of the city, according to City Development Director Johnny Vance.

"Our initial proposal was to annex property adjacent to the south side of the proposed Highway 11 extension, from State Highway 154 to State Highway 19," Vance said. "We initially looked at 154 to Arbala Road, but we decided to take it all the way from 154 to Highway 19."

Included in the planned annexation is all the property not already in the city limits between Interstate 30 and the planned highway extension, as well as property immediately adjacent to the extension on the south side.

The annexation process has already included informal hearings and workshops, but before the process is completed, a schedule of public meetings will be held to allow for public input and comment on the annexation plans. The plans must also be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval.

Plans call for the process to begin in June. By November 7, the City Council should be ready to hear and vote on the second and final reading of the ordinance to bring the property into the city limits.

The need to annex the property into the city is attributed to the plan for growth of the community, specifically in the target area.

"Certainly, with the Highway 11 extension, that is going to be an area that we anticipate will have quite a bit of developmental impact in the near future," Vance said. "It is much easier to address all the issues that come with development before hand rather than after the fact."

Vance said there is always a need for city services when new development occurs. Those services can be more easily provided and better regulated if the property is already inside the city limits.

Vance said approximately 11 families are expected to be affected by the annexation and will be in line to receive some, but not all, city services immediately. Fire and police protection, for example, will become effective immediately when the property is annexed. And the city will provide the large sewer mains to connect to the city's sanitary sewer treatment plant.

The development director, however, said that just because a piece of property is annexed into the city does not mean the city will immediately provide the utility connections. The actual connection between a residence and the sewer main will be up to the property owner or resident.

For new developments, developers will be required to put in all the services to connect with the city's infrastructure.

"We provide the plant, the treatment facility, we provide the large trunk lines to get it to the facility, but typically require the developer to take it from his development to our collector lines," Vance explained. "After the developer installs these and maintains them for one year, they become the city's responsibility to maintain."

Also, if a utility service comes within 150 feet of an individual piece of property, the property owner can be required to tie into the city's system.

A proposed service agreement identifying what services the city will provide and how they will be provided has been drafted for council consideration.

Property acquisition for the extension of SH 11 is expected to begin later this year or in early 2007.

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