Parker County residents are making Texas property-rights history.

Last month, citizens with the group Stop Involuntary Annexation in Parker County filed the state’s first municipal annexation reform “opt-in” petition calling for an election to end forced annexation in the county.

On Wednesday, the county elections office certified that the petition contains enough valid signatures to put the opt-in measure on the ballot – another first.

The petition process is part of the state’s new annexation reform law enacted last year. The law bans forced annexation only in the state’s largest counties, those with 500,000 or more residents. Unincorporated property owners in the rest of Texas, including Parker County, are left unprotected from city land grabs – unless residents vote to opt in to the ban.

If 10 percent of a county’s registered voters sign a petition, the opt-in question will be added to the ballot. If a majority of voters approve the measure, cities in the county will no longer be able to annex property without landowners’ consent.

County officials verified that 9,162 registered voters signed the petition, well over the 8,926 needed to meet the 10-percent requirement. Volunteers collected more than 15,000 signatures.

Petition organizer Laura Hester told Texas Scorecard that Parker County Commissioners Court will vote on Monday, April 9, to add the opt-in proposition to the November 2018 ballot.

If the measure passes in November, Parker County property owners will be protected from involuntary annexation – as all Texas landowners should be.

Hester has been leading the charge against forced annexation in Parker County since the City of Weatherford tried to annex her unincorporated Zion Hill community last August without the property owners’ consent. She and her neighbors won that land grab fight.

They’ve been fighting and winning ever since – and making history.

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.