Bill filed to limit strip annexation

Special to the PRESS

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr.

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr.

Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) filed legislation which would address concerns raised by Cameron County cities relating to the City of Brownsville’s annexation of unincorporated areas in the county.

“I filed a package of bills related to municipal annexation to encourage dialogue on the practice of strip annexation,” Senator Lucio said. “The legislative process facilitates meaningful discussion, and consensus building. It is my desire for the municipalities affected to find that consensus and to find a resolution so that this matter may finally be put to rest.”

Senate Bill 1692 would prevent certain cities from annexing additional unincorporated land until all of the unincorporated land surrounded by that city is also annexed.

Senate Bill 1694 would prevent certain cities from annexing an unincorporated area unless that area is “compact,” and the addition of the area to a city would serve the goal of creating “a single compact municipal area.” An area is compact if it is concentrated in a single area. Thus, an annexation cannot create “enclaves, pockets, or finger areas.” Under the bill, cities are prohibited from annexing unincorporated areas if doing so would result in one city becoming entirely surrounded by the annexing city. The bill further requires that a city must, by December 1, 2016, also annex unincorporated areas if these areas are entirely surrounded by that city.

Senate Bill 1694 will additionally require that certain cities relinquish areas annexed on or after January 1, 2002 unless those areas are compact and create a single compact municipal area.

Senate Bill 1697 would discourage certain cities from engaging in “strip annexation,” defined as annexing an area less than 1,000 feet wide. Under the bill, any city that has more than 10 miles of strip annexation must also include in its annexation plan the surrounding extraterritorial jurisdictional (ETJ). Cities must either annex these ETJ areas within three years of adding them to the annexation plan, or release the strip annexed areas.

Finally, Senate Bill 1695 would address concerns raised by the Port Isabel City Commission relating to Brownsville’s annexations into the Laguna Madre area. Currently, Brownsville and Port Isabel’s ETJ lines overlap in the ship channel. Senate Bill 1695 would require certain municipalities to release from its ETJ any strip of land less than one mile wide if that strip lies entirely in between the edge of a ship channel and the boundary of another city.

If passed by the Legislature, Senator Lucio’s package of bills would become effective September 1, 2013.

Read this story in the March 14 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.

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