In a fight for private property rights, a state senator is standing with his constituents.
Texas State Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) was at the front of the line Monday night as people packed a public hearing in Mesquite’s city council chambers to oppose the city’s forced annexation plans.
Mesquite wants to force unincorporated property around the city – mostly in Kaufman County – into its city limits and onto the city’s tax rolls, with just a few weeks’ notice.
City council is rushing the process to beat a December 1 deadline. That’s when a new state law takes effect that will prevent cities like Mesquite from annexing property without owners’ consent.
Hall, who represents the area, was first in line to speak out against the city’s land grab and for his constituents’ property rights.
“Property is property, whether or not a house is on it. Its lives that are affected and not rooftops. These are people that live in these homes and not just rooftops.
“For several years now, people that we as elected officials are supposed to be serving have spoken loud and clear regarding city forced annexation… this past session state legislators listened by passing SB 6, specifically written to protect people’s property rights.”
SB 6 refers to Senate Bill 6, municipal annexation reform that Hall helped enact. By delaying passage of the bill until the special legislative session, opponents of the reform ensured that the new protections wouldn’t go into effect until December.
Hall noted that the “lobby arm of the cities,” the Texas Municipal League (TML), spent a great deal of taxpayer money fighting against the reform that’s purpose is to protect taxpayers.
“I’m very disappointed that cities are ignoring the spirit and the intent of the law which was passed to protect people’s rights, and they spent a lot of taxpayer money to subvert the property owners’ protection that is intended by SB 6.
“Property rights are fundamental to the principles of liberty on which our country was founded.”
Hall also called out Mesquite’s land grab as unnecessary and “a disservice to the citizens.”
“There is no legitimate reason for this accelerated process because SB 6 does not stop annexation,” he told the council. “It simply allows the citizens a voice in the process – a process that significantly curtails their property rights.”
“Just because you have the legal right to do something,” Hall concluded, “does not mean it is the right thing to do.”
Hall called on council to show respect for citizens by delaying action on the annexations until the new law takes effect, giving people a say in their future.
For nearly two hours, person after person repeated Hall’s call for delay, including former Mesquite Mayor George Venner.
Venner told the council he was disappointed they were “acting like this is a two-minute drill” to do before December 1. He also admonished the city for not providing services to areas it previously annexed.
“If you can’t service it, don’t take it in,” Venner advised.
No one spoke in favor of the forced annexations.
Impacted residents have been vocally opposing Mesquite’s land grab since the city first sent out notices of involuntary annexation just a few weeks ago. County landowners and city taxpayers alike are opposed to the plan.
Three more public hearings are scheduled: on October 23 and November 6 at Mesquite City Hall, and on October 26 at Heartland Fellowship Baptist Church in Forney. Hearings start at 7:00 p.m. All interested parties are invited to appear and be heard concerning the proposed annexation.