Kyle Planning Director Shira Rodgers tries assure area residents that annexation into the city would be beneficial. Photo by Lance Duncan.
By LANCE DUNCAN
KYLE — Another room full of citizens concerned about a major round of annexations presented itself to the Kyle City Council last week in a second public hearing on the matter.
The city has been at work on the annexations since last November, when it first revealed plans to bring another 5.99 square miles into the city limits. Many of the areas being annexed are “donut holes” bounded by the city limits on two, three or four sides. Kyle Director of Planning Shira Rodgers said then that she wants to “clean up our boundaries.”
Rodgers attempted to reassure residents last week that the impacts of annexation would not be as severe as feared, pointing out ways in which citizens could benefit from becoming part of the city.
Responding to spoken fears that property values would be re-appraised by the city after annexation, Rodgers said that the county’s appraisal district, and not the city, appraises property values.
Rodgers said the city’s street department would maintain all annexed roads without need for additional staff. The department maintains 150 miles of linear roads within the city.
Rodgers street lights would be installed at no cost to residents, saving money for those who are paying for private security lights. In addition, Rodgers said, the city is going to implement a comprehensive sidewalk program, and that areas being considered for annexation would be better planned served if they were included within the city limits.
Property owners with private septic systems and private garbage collection services also expressed concerns. Rodgers said the city doesn’t require residents to connect their properties to the Kyle sewer system before selling them, and that residents could continue to use their own private garbage collection services for up to two years after annexation. Councilmember David Wilson pointed out that the city’s garbage collection service is most likely cheaper than other private services, and may also provide a higher level of service.
Rodgers also told those on hand that residents outside of the city are actually paying a higher rate than those within, with the average utility bill being $54 within the city, and $65 outside.
The Winfield Inn, which holds many wedding receptions at its Scott Street location, has complained that the city’s 10 p.m. noise ordinance would cramp its business, as many receptions run until 11 p.m. Rodgers said all annexed properties would be subject to the ordinance, but that special arrangements can be made.
Attorney Ivan Friedman spoke on behalf of the Winfield Inn, saying that the inn still needs a solution to the noise ordinance problem. Friedman said the owners want to see an amendment to the ordinance, whether it is a city-wide extension or one specifically for businesses hosting outdoor events. He also pointed out that a client of his had been asked to donate land for right of way of utility services. Friedman asked the city if this is the right time for annexation if it’s unable to pay for the right of way.
Winfield Inn employee Samantha Bellows said the inn must enter into contracts for the events and can’t assume unlawful ending times for events in those contracts. Bellows urged the council to think about the “little guy.”
Said Bellows, “If you continue to add on and go with these big huge projects, I won’t be able to afford living here.”
Kyle Mayor Mike Gonzalez said the noise ordinance is there to protect other citizens, but that there is a lot more flexibility when a property, like The Winfield Inn, is surrounded by vacant land.
Local farmer James P. Jansen, whose family has farmed for 70 years on land targeted for annexation, said the city’s prohibition on pigs within the city limits poses a major problem for his operation. Jansen added that the tractors used on his farm are loud, and that insecticides and herbicides are often sprayed by low-flying planes and helicopters. Jansen said that at his age, a ten-year period granted before potential annexation is not a problem, but that it would be an issue for his two sons, who are 28 and 30.
Local resident Gene Harris noted that one person spoke in favor of the annexations and nine spoke against them at a public hearing two weeks ago. Harris said that’s indicative of the level of support for the annexations. He also said sewage and sidewalk developments would be a significant cost to the city, and speculated over whether they would increase taxes.
Dacy Lane resident Francisco Martinez said he has lived in the Kyle area for 30 years and opposes annexation because he likes living in the country. Martinez that he lives across the street from the Seton Hospital location, and that the hospital’s helicopter is a noise problem.
“I want to be left alone,” he said.
Similarly, local resident Chris Bomnskie said he simply isn’t looking forward to city development in his area. Bomnskie said lights and sidewalks make the country look like the city, and that it would be harder to see the stars.
Rex Wiegand, a local farmer, said he and his wife will continue farming, and will not sign a development agreement. Wiegand said he wants the city to cease its attempts to annex his property and worries about what will happen if future amended regulations impact his farming. He also pointed out that his practices utilize heavy equipment that produces noise and dust. Wiegand asked Kyle officials to “respect the area farmer, and don’t use them as a means of taxation to pay for your road projects.”
Gonzales told citizens he is confident that matters will be resolved as the planning process moves forward.
“All of this started as a planning process,” Gonzalez said. ” … This is a balance between property rights and overall safety.”
Councilmember and Mayor Pro-Tem Michelle Lopez said she knows annexation is an “emotionally charged issue,” and said that she would feel the same way if she were in the place of the residents who are speaking out. She said no decisions have yet been made about the annexations.
Gonzales noted that “receiving a letter from a government entity is never fun,” but that “this is the only tool we have.” Gonzales said that the main goal of this process is to raise the quality of living, and that the areas not protesting annexation would be the best ones to annex.Email | Print