On Monday night hundreds of homeowners packed Mesquite City Hall to express their anger, frustration and genuine concern over a proposed annexation plan which would involuntarily annex into the Mesquite city limit’s a large section of Kaufman County located along Interstate 20.
The Mesquite City Council, led by Mayor Stan Pickett, first held a lengthy work session in which the council cut back their originally declared annexation area.
Updated annexation maps were immediately displayed in the lobby of Mesquite City Hall, however the updated plan did absolutely nothing to appease the dozens of homeowners who feel bullied and manipulated by the “land grab” annexation currently being pursued by the Mesquite City Council.
This was the first of four public hearings scheduled to publicly discuss the Mesquite annexation plan, and just prior to allowing the citizens to speak, Mesquite Mayor Stan Pickett said “Several years ago members of this city council began an effort to control and look at quality development within our Extra Territorial Jurisdiction".
Reading from a prepared statement, Mayor Pickett stated “The focus was to annex key parcels along I-20, up and down that corridor. Our concern was for a lack of zoning out in the county that might deter residential and commercial development now and in the future. It continues to be my intent, and most of this councils intent, to only look at properties that have a potential to develop, down the road or down the line, that we can somewhat control and impact positively the land to the highest quality of standards out in that area.”
The first in line to address the council was District 2 Senator Bob Hall who expressed his concern for the predicament these residents are facing.
Senator Hall said “I’d like to remind you, that property is property whether there is a house on it, or not. And remind everyone that these are lives that are affected, not rooftops. There are people that live in these homes, they are not just rooftops.”
Hall said “In this past session we state legislatures listened by passing SB6, specifically written to protect citizens property rights. Unfortunately the lobby arm of the cities, TML (Texas Municipal League, spent a great deal of taxpayer money to get a three month window inserted in the bill that would allow this kind of grab just before the bill goes into effect. And I’m very disappointed that cities, you’re not the only one other cities are doing it to, are ignoring the spirit and intent of the law which was passed to protect the homeowners rights.”
Approximately twenty residents, from both Forney and Mesquite followed Hall to the podium and of the residents speaking, not one single person spoke in favor of the annexation.
Four Mesquite residents, including former Mesquite Mayor George Venner spoke adamantly in opposition to the annexation plans. Many citizens whose property was removed from the annexation area during the pre-meeting workshop also remained at the meeting to support their friends and neighbors and many of these individuals addressed the council, as well.
Former Mesquite Mayor George Venner said “I’m here tonight because I’m really disappointed in you as a Council. I mean, your acting like this is a two minute drill to do before December one. The State is not forcing you to do this by December one. But after December one we have got to get all these people to vote, and they’d be the same ones that are going to vote for you in May, maybe or maybe not.”
Venner said “There is no point in putting a load on people you can’t service. When I was mayor my attitude on it was, if you can’t service it, don’t take it in. And I think that’s what you all should consider. Because the people here in Mesquite are well aware of the last bond issue that went in. And basically, that’s how some of you got elected, by saying 'we’re going to fix the streets', and things like that.”
He stated “That money was passed here in Mesquite and the Mesquite citizens are paying for it. But Mesquite is already the largest land owner. Ask who owns the most land in this city; the City of Mesquite does. Well, it doesn’t make any sense to go out into Kaufman County, and into Forney, and take in more land that you can’t service. I don’t think you’ve serviced what you took in about ten years ago, and so it doesn’t make sense to go in and try and do it again.”
Twenty-three video clips of this public meeting were captured for review by the taxpayers of Mesquite, Forney and Kaufman County.
The readers of The Forney Post are highly encouraged to view their friends, neighbors and fellow taxpayers opposing the Mesquite City Council’s annexation plans at The Forney Post on Facebook
Written by: Denise Bell