Forced annexation finished; Wise County is now Tier 2

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, November 10, 2018

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Stopped It

STOPPED IT – Bryson Boyd and supporters of the Wise Citizens for Property Rights celebrate after seeing the results of the election Tuesday night at Rooster’s Roadhouse in Decatur. Wise County voters overwhelmingly voted for Tier 2 status, a measure to stop forced annexation in Wise County. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After a 426-day fight, the Wise Citizens for Property Rights founder Bryson Boyd finally had cause to kick back and celebrate as he watched votes pile up against forced annexation at an election party Tuesday night at Rooster’s Roadhouse in Decatur.

The Tier 2 measure the group worked to get on the ballot was overwhelmingly approved by Wise County voters 15,289 to 4,567.

Wise County is now a Tier 2 county, meaning property owners will have to vote to approve any involuntary annexation.

Boyd started the campaign to make Wise County a Tier 2 county last September after the city of Bridgeport announced its intentions to involuntarily annex more than 1,000 acres.

“Four hundred twenty six days – that’s how long we’ve been doing this,” Boyd said. “It’s exciting. It’s been a fight, it’s been an absolute battle.”

During last year’s special session of the 85th legislature, Senate Bill 6 was approved, which does not allow cities in counties with populations larger than 500,000 to involuntarily annex land into their city limits. The bill also allows smaller counties to petition for an election to fall under a Tier 2 classification, which would prevent involuntary annexation in those counties.

In Tier 2 counties, cities must receive approval from the majority of property owners in an annexation area before expanding their boundaries.

Previously, only home rule cities in Texas have the ability to annex involuntarily. The only home rule cities currently in Wise County are Decatur, Bridgeport and Fort Worth.

Boyd said his main concern was the wording of the ballot. He said his campaign on social media, through signs, bumper stickers and local media helped get the message out.

“I was a little skeptical because of the ballot wording,” Boyd said. “We weren’t really worried about people voting against it. Of course we knew some people will. But a lot of the feedback we’ve had was the people who voted against it voted in error. We’re just thankful to get a ballot language that at least people could work through and we’re thankful for all the outlets helping us get the word out.”

Decatur resident Chris Fernihough, who is currently fighting against the city of Decatur’s development plans that annex a portion of his property, said the vote was a big moment for the people of Wise County. He hopes the vote for Tier 2 will have an impact on the city’s decisions going forward.

“I think it’s good to see the people come out and speak,” Fernihough said. “That’s all we’re trying to do is have a voice. Have a chance to say what we want to say. I think this is a big moment I really do.”

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