2017 in Review: Bridgeport annexation plan stopped

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, December 27, 2017
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Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In early September, the city of Bridgeport mailed notices to landowners that they planned to annex more than 1,300 acres in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). By early November, Bridgeport Mayor Randy Singleton announced the city council had decided to completely cancel the annexation.

In the two months between those two announcements, citizens organized an anti-annexation group, the city cut back on the scale of its plan due to public backlash and a petition to end involuntary annexation countywide was started.

Landowners whose property fell within the proposed annexation area met at the La Quinta Inn and Suites in Bridgeport in early October to discuss their options. They formed a group, led by Bryson Boyd of Bridgeport, that eventually came to be known as Wise Citizens for Property Rights. They showed up in mass to two Bridgeport public hearings, wearing red and speaking out against annexation.

Bridgeport had originally planned to annex more than 1,300 acres on U.S. 380 southwest of town and Texas 101 north of town. Additionally, there were a few lots in town that remained un-annexed on the list. Most of the U.S. 380 lots were rural.

“We pay sales taxes, and if we do use fire protection, we pay county taxes,” Randall Holley said at the second public hearing. “We are taxpayers. We are not beggars. And I don’t see where rural property should be supporting a city.”

After the two public hearings, the city council scaled back their annexation plans at a special meeting in October, deciding not to annex the rural lands west of East Farm Road 1658.

On the day of the scheduled annexation vote, Nov. 13, Singleton stood in front of a sea of red shirts to announce that Bridgeport would not annex any land at all.

“The city of Bridgeport will not proceed with the annexation that has been considered through this time,” Singleton said. “During this whole process we have listened to you, and we have laid out all of our options.

“Our staff has worked very hard to present to the council documents that show all sides of the annexation, but at the end of the day today, we think it’s in the best interest of the community to not proceed.”

Wise Citizens for Property Rights is now eyeing legislation that will affect annexation all over the county. The group is collecting signatures for a petition to hold an election to bring Wise under Senate Bill 6, which prohibits cities from involuntarily annexing land. If they get 4,600 signatures by May 1, 2018, the November 2018 election will be triggered.

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