Property owners gather at City Hall to voice opposition to Marble Falls annexation plan

MARBLE FALLS — The city’s plan to possibly annex 1,100 acres south along the U.S. 281 corridor isn’t being welcomed with open arms by several property owners, who fear officials won’t be able to deliver on necessary services.

“There’s not any way to give me (city) services,” said Grant Dean, who owns property in the 3000 block of 281 that would fall within the planned annexation area.

PHOTO: Dr. Tim Thompson of Hope Animal Clinic explains to the Marble Falls City Council Oct. 2 why he doesn’t want his property included in the planned annexation of 1,100 acres south of the city along the U.S. 281 corridor to Texas 71. The city initiated the annexation process Aug. 21, but the recent meeting was one of two public hearings on the matter. Several residents in the affected area expressed concerns over the city’s plan. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

His complaint was echoed by many others — including veterinarian Tim Thompson and landowner Bailey Sutherland — who showed up at the Oct. 2 City Council meeting to voice their opposition to the city’s annexation plan, which officials say is only in the earliest stages.

City leaders say they need to be able to regulate development along the 281 corridor, which stretches to Texas 71 and includes the future Wayne and Eileen Hurd Regional Medical Center Campus, which is under construction.

Annexing the proposed area would also eliminate emergency response issues, since a portion of the corridor already falls within city limits and a portion doesn’t, officials say.

Mayor George Russell said staff will review the residents’ questions and reply with copies to all property owners in the proposed annexation area.

“Stuff like this is never easy for you or the city,” the mayor said.

Dean noted the city recently approved a bid to complete the extension of a sewage line from Marble Falls to the Texas 71 and 281 area for the hospital. The line doesn’t follow the corridor but instead will cut through some of the undeveloped land.

During a Sept. 18 meeting, the council approved a bid of $1.1 million to extend the sewage line.

Dean said while he owns several acres that could anchor apartments or similar developments, he estimated it would cost him $1 million to extend the line to serve any residential structures on his property.

That cost is prohibitive to such development, he added.

Sutherland, who owns property in the 2000 block of 281, compared the possible annexation to when the city absorbed the neighboring Rocky Road community southwest of Marble Falls. Even today, the city hasn’t extended many services to the area such as road improvements and water and sewer lines, Sutherland said.

“I feel like the movement there is too slow,” Sutherland said, adding the city is not in a position to offer those services to property owners in the additional acreage either. “I’d like services there sooner than later. But you’ve set an example there (Rocky Road) with what you’re not going to do.”

Thompson, of Hope Animal Clinic in the 4015 U.S. 281, also shared his concerns about the annexation. He has hired attorney Will Moursund, who recently sent a strongly worded letter to the council explaining the veterinarian’s concerns about the annexation — including an assertion the city had been “sneaky” about the process.

Thompson Oct. 2 told the council the vet practice deals with animal deaths and disposals — not exactly something welcomed in the city limits.

Thompson said he also was concerned about the city’s ability to offer services.

“If we wanted water, we drilled a well,” Thompson said.

The city will hold a second public hearing 6 p.m. Oct. 16 in the council chambers, 800 Third Street. The final adoption vote is scheduled for the Nov. 2 council meeting.

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