Public opposition to one city’s land grab is having an effect.
Landowners who’ve been fighting forced annexation by the City of McKinney got what they believe is some good news on Wednesday.
At a public hearing on the city’s plans to annex unincorporated land in Collin County with just a few weeks’ notice and without landowners’ consent, McKinney Mayor George Fuller announced that the city would now offer all targeted landowners 45-year deferments.
Fuller said he would direct his staff to “offer every single person… a development agreement with a 45-year annexation deferment” that would only be enforceable if council votes to approve the forced annexations.
“If annexation passes, that agreement stands. If it doesn’t, that agreement is thrown in the trash.”
The standing-room-only crowd at the midday outdoor hearing seemed receptive to the new offer.
The city originally offered owners of non-agricultural property a three-year city tax reimbursement in exchange for accepting immediate annexation, and those with agricultural land a five-year annexation deferment with an option to renew for another five years.
Any of those original agreements already signed will also be thrown out, the mayor said.
The city has been rushing to complete the forced annexations ahead of a December 1 deadline. That’s when a new law goes into effect stopping land grabs by cities like McKinney and requiring them to let people vote on whether to be annexed.
City Manager Paul Grimes clarified that the city would offer landowners two agreements: one that would be effective only if the city votes to annex them, and one that goes into effect whether or not the forced annexations are approved.
Grimes expects the new offers to go out to landowners within a few days.
Targeted landowners are cautiously optimistic but are waiting to see the details of the agreements before making up their minds.
County and city residents alike have been speaking out against McKinney rushing to forcibly annex about 150 county properties, rather than slowing down the process and letting impacted landowners have a say.
Many of the targeted county residents reached out to Collin County Commissioners Court on Monday, hoping to get responses to their unanswered questions about the city’s land grab.
“All we hear from the city council are excuses,” one county resident told the commissioners. “We have no other representation.”
Commissioners agreed to follow up on residents’ questions and concerns about whether the city’s annexation process is complying with the law. “We do consider ourselves your representatives,” County Judge Keith Self said.
City council members currently appear divided on whether they’ll vote to approve the annexations, with four (including the mayor) in favor and three opposed, but Fuller emphasized that he still hasn’t made up his mind.
City council’s next meeting is on November 7, and a final vote on the forced annexations is set for Wednesday, November 15, at City Hall.