Parker County citizens submitted a petition Monday calling for a vote to end forced annexation in their county – making them the first in Texas to complete a municipal annexation reform “opt-in” petition under a new state law.
Volunteers with the group Stop Involuntary Annexation in Parker County started circulating the petition last fall, hoping to do what state lawmakers failed to: protect local property owners from being annexed without their consent.
They exceeded their goal, collecting over 10,000 petition signatures from all across the county. They needed at least 8,926 signers – 10 percent of registered voters in the county – to get the opt-in measure on the November ballot.
Elections Administrator Don Markum and his Chief Deputy Gina Osborn officially accepted the petition, which filled two large binders.
The petition drive began after residents of the unincorporated Zion Hill community fought off an attempt by the City of Weatherford to annex their property without the landowners’ consent. They stopped that land grab, but they were still left unprotected from future annexation.
Only the state’s largest counties, those with 500,000 or more residents, are protected by the limited annexation reform law enacted last year. Unincorporated property owners in the rest of Texas, including Parker County, were left out.
But State Rep. Phil King (R–Weatherford), who attended Monday’s petition filing, added a provision to the law that lets residents of smaller counties, like Parker, file a petition and vote to ban forced annexation.
The group’s organizers, including Laura Hester, Dedra Vick, and Jim Welty, are confident they have more than enough valid signatures.

The elections office has 30 days to verify the petition signatures. The verified petition will then go to county commissioners court, which will authorize adding the measure to the November 2018 ballot.
“So we all need to go vote in November in the general election to stop forced annexation for Parker County residents,” Hester told the crowd gathered to witness the official petition filing.
“It’s just been such a long road and we’re all so excited,” Hester said. “It’s just been an amazing experience.”

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.

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