Annexation talks with Laguna Heights residents begin

Special to the PRESS

Port Isabel City Manager Jared Hockema presided over two back-to-back public hearings last Wednesday about the City’s plans to annex portions of Laguna Heights.

Describing the purpose as several fold, Hockema laid out why Port Isabel is seeking to annex part of the unincorporated community. “Number one, there is a lack of public services in this area. Two, it’s the front door to our city. There are some issues there with code enforcement, loose dogs, quality of construction, things like that, that make it perhaps not as attractive as an entrance to the city as we could have,” Hockema explained.

Laguna Heights is classified as a colonia. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) defines colonias as “economically distressed areas that often lack the most basic necessities, such as drinkable water, sewer systems, paved roads, and safe, sanitary housing.”

TCEQ further classifies colonias as “green,” “yellow” or “red” based on what utility services and public infrastructure are present.

The city manager offered more reasons why the City hopes to annex portions of Laguna Heights.

“The other issue is that immediately south of Laguna Heights we have quite a bit of land that is in the city limits and that land is under consideration for development. However, to access that area we would need to go through Laguna Heights,” Hockema said.

Finally, Hockema said, annexation would help address public safety concerns. “We have the Zika outbreak, and we actually went and sprayed in Laguna Heights, of course, because mosquitoes do not respect the city limits,” Hockema quipped, adding that the level of services provided by Cameron County is much lower than what the City of Port Isabel provides.

“So, by annexing this area, we would be able to provide the same level of services,” he said.

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