Bridgeport landowners make plans to fight annexation

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, October 7, 2017

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Landowners who are likely to be annexed by the city of Bridgeport met Wednesday to discuss their options for avoiding the expanding city limits.

They don’t have many – under a home rule charter, which Bridgeport has, cities are allowed to involuntarily annex land, at least until Dec. 1. That’s when Senate Bill 6, which ends involuntary annexation for counties with more than 500,000 citizens, goes into effect. State Rep. Phil King wrote an amendment to SB 6 that also allows the citizens of smaller counties to petition for an election to vote the bill into effect for their towns, too. But Bridgeport plans to annex large swaths of land along west U.S. 380 and smaller areas closer to the main town by Nov. 13.

The city mailed notices to landowners in early September and scheduled public hearings for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, and Wednesday, Oct. 11.

Bryson Boyd, who runs a Facebook group called City of Bridgeport TX Bull-Y Annexation, called the Wednesday meeting to encourage fellow landowners to show up in force at Bridgeport’s two public hearings on the annexation. Like the Zion Hill community did when Weatherford planned to annex them, Boyd encouraged all those in attendance to come to the hearings in red shirts and to sign up to speak to the council members.

“It’s not just the people on the current list,” Boyd said. “It’s the people inside the ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction). It’s going to keep expanding and expanding. This is a bigger picture deal.”

The meeting packed the conference room at La Quinta Inn and Suites in Bridgeport, and many who attended pledged to show up at the public hearings next week.

“You can’t stop this unless you change the councilmen’s minds,” Kristen Baird told the crowd.

Though their plan for this upcoming annexation is basic – show up to hearings and ask the city to reconsider – they’re already looking ahead to December and further protections for landowners under SB 6. One of the first topics of the meeting was setting up a non-profit group to collect signatures for the petition for an election on SB 6 in Wise County. Boyd was named president of the group, with Harriet Garrison as treasurer and Wendell Wiggins as secretary. Boyd explained the group would have to be non-profit if they wanted to spend money on shirts and advertising to encourage other county citizens to sign the petition and eventually vote to bring Wise under SB 6.

“It would be tying hands more, not just in Bridgeport, but in the county,” Boyd said. “Even if we lose this battle we might win the war.”

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