Mesquite City Council members are creating confusion, and some seem confused, as they hurry to forcibly annex land before new municipal annexation limits kick in.
Tonight, a public hearing on the city’s forced annexation plan was scheduled to be held in the unincorporated area targeted for annexation. Current law allows impacted landowners to request a hearing at a location that’s more convenient to them than city council chambers.
But at the last minute, the city changed the location of the hearing, claiming in an “emergency notice of meeting relocation” that the small church in Forney they’d originally selected to host the meeting had canceled on them on October 24 – just two days ahead of the hearing date.
Yet the city said it was an “urgent public necessity” to hold the hearing at a new location, tonight. Were the city not rushing to beat a deadline, the hearing could’ve been delayed to allow time for residents to be properly notified of the change.
Meanwhile, at Monday’s public hearing, council members Bruce Archer and Robert Miklos wrongly claimed that legislators intended to give cities time to complete more forced annexations by having the new annexation law go into effect in December.
The council members’ comments were made in response to several citizens’ calls to wait until the new law goes into effect and let people vote on annexation.
Archer said, “I’m not sure I agree that we’re violating the spirit of the law… If that were the case, they would’ve made this effective September 1.”
“It’s my understanding this was done for municipalities around the state who were in the process of doing some things.”
“That’s exactly right,” added Miklos. “The legislature could’ve made the effective date immediately.”
Miklos said he’d served a term in the legislature and that lawmakers had to “add those specific provisions that said it didn’t go into effect until December 1.”
In fact, laws passed by the Texas Legislature don’t go into effect until 90 days after adjournment of the session in which they’re enacted, unless they pass by a two-thirds majority of each chamber.
Senate Bill 6, enacted during this year’s special legislative session, didn’t pass by that margin, thus the December 1 effective date.
The confusion might get corrected at tonight’s public hearing – if people can find it.