Annexation issue headed to court

Special to the PRESS

A Brownsville court will hear motions June 30 on the annexation lawsuit filed against the Town of Laguna Vista and City of Port Isabel by the City of Brownsville.

Judge Janet Leal of the 103rd District Court is expected to hear motions where attorneys representing Brownsville will seek to have legislation enacted by HB 4059 invalidated, according to attorney Jim Hunter who is representing Laguna Vista in the lawsuit.

The City of Brownsville filed suit against the two smaller cities in District Court, seeking a declaratory judgment over recent legislation designed to prevent Brownville from its strip annexation practices.

At issue is HB 4059 which was passed by the Texas Legislature last year, designed to halt the City of Brownsville’s strip annexation practices and protect unincorporated communities in Cameron County from future land-grabs. The measure, which won both Texas House and Senate approval, was sponsored by State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) and State Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville).

The June 20 hearing precedes a scheduled August trial date where the annexation issue will be heard. “At that time, the judge is expected to rule if Brownsville’s annexation is valid,” Hunter said. “If it is determined to be invalid, Brownsville loses its strip annexation and a five-mile ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) along the strips of land,” he added.

“Dozens of miles” of land would then be available for Laguna Vista’s and Port Isabel’s future economic growth, Hunter said.

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