Abbott signs anti strip-annexation measure

Special to the PRESS

Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure that will halt the City of Brownsville’s aggressive strip annexation practices and protect unincorporated communities in Cameron County from future land-grabs.

Local officials are elated at the action and hail the action as a David versus Goliath victory, with the smaller Cameron County communities standing-up to the largest city in the Rio Grande Valley.

“This is a monumental victory for the smaller communities in Cameron County that was a long time in the making,” said Laguna Vista Mayor Susie Houston.

“This bill would not have been passed without the very public support of the Cameron County Commissioner’s Court and the other towns and cities throughout the county, whose resolutions and countless emails, text messages, phone calls, and faxes to the legislators in support of this legislation played a large role in making this bill become a reality,” she said.

The legislation gives qualified municipalities in Cameron County the opportunity to secure their future growth by dialing back the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of a larger municipality which threatens to surround the smaller municipality, according to Laguna Vista City Manager Rolando Vela. The new law also prevents Brownsville from surrounding smaller communities in the future, he said.

The new law prohibits annexation to surround municipalities in certain counties. “A municipality with a population of more than 175,000 located in a county that contains an international border and borders the Gulf of Mexico may not annex an area that would cause another municipality to be entirely surrounded by the corporate limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction of the annexing municipality,” the new law reads.

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