By MARTHA McCLAIN
“Part of the golf course (property) could be in Brownsville’s city limits if Home Rule doesn’t pass,” Committee Chairman Rudy Garcia told some 30 people at a Saturday morning public hearing.
The second in a series of three Home Rule Charter hearings prior to the public vote, the session was designed to enlighten voters on the proposed document. Some 30 residents gathered to hear the committee that led the creation of the charter that would change the Town from a Type A General –law municipality to Home Rule government.
Home rule governance would allow the Town greater power to control its future expansion, implement a comprehensive growth plan, give citizens power to petition, and provide a more organized system to appoint boards, committees and commissions.
“Brownsville is aggressive…and is leapfrogging toward us,” said Charter Committee member Paul Villas. “If we don’t annex the land where the new causeway (to South Padre Island) will likely be built, Brownsville will,” he said noting a previous attempt to do so. But, he added, the Town’s upgrade to Home Rule status is needed before it can expand its extraterritorial jurisdiction to protect the area.
Under General Law, the Town’s ETJ is now limited to one-half mile, and restricts annexation of property unless an adjoining property owner requests to be annexed. Home Rule provides a one mile ETJ buffer and the power to annex or disannex at will. If approved, the Town will be allowed to annex 10 percent of its total acreage in a one-year period, and a maximum of 30 percent over three years.
Concern over the Town becoming land-locked as a result of Brownsville’s threat, would have long term and expensive consequences, committee members agreed. Brownsville’s tax rate is 3 ½ times greater than Laguna Vista’s 29 cents per $100 property valuation, it was noted.
For more on this story, pick up a copy of the Apr. 18 edition of the Port Isabel South Padre Press or check out our E-edition by clicking here.