Horseshoe Bay annexes 600 acres to repel heavy industry

CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER

HORSESHOE BAY — Two communities have joined the city of Horseshoe Bay through annexation as adjacent landowners signed agreements with the municipality to keep heavy industry from developing in and around the city limits, officials said.

On March 10, several residents met with Horseshoe Bay City Council members and city staff as a culmination of the 600-acre annexation within the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ).

ETJ involves unincorporated properties adjacent to city limits.

About a dozen residents of The Hills and Quail Ridge, located on the west side of town, attended the event.

The communities, which include an estimated 50 households, are located just off RR 2831, west of Horseshoe Bay and north of Texas 71 in Llano County.

“We’re glad to have them all in the city limits,” City Manager Stan Farmer said. “The primary reason the city council looked at this annexation was to protect our boundaries, especially along (Texas) 71 on the north side and the south side and then up (RR) 2831 just to protect our boundaries.”

State law prohibits local regulation of commercial development in unincorporated areas.

That power is adjudicated to state agencies and entities such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Lower Colorado River Authority.

“Cities don’t have a lot of control to protect our citizens from stuff that nobody wants to live next to like a rock-crushing plant, an asphalt plant, a concrete plant, a salvage yard, a junk yard,” Farmer said.

The city will gain an estimated $30,000-$35,000 per year in tax revenue from the annexed communities.

“We really didn’t do it for the revenue. The revenue is so small,” Farmer said. “They (already) have all their infrastructure for utilities.”

Prior to annexation, the communities involved were contracting with the city of Horseshoe Bay for fire service; however, both relied on the Llano County Sheriff’s Office based in Llano for police protection.

Llano is about 35 miles west of the subdivisions in contrast to Horseshoe Bay, which is about five miles east.

“When they now call 9-1-1, they’ll have a Horseshoe Bay police officer arrive in a much faster time than the Llano County sheriff’s deputies,” Farmer said.

Supporters of annexation welcomed the move by the city.

“They get the benefit more than anything,” Farmer said. “They realized their water bills would go down because they would be switched from out-of-city to our city rates.”

City leaders also invited adjacent landowners within the city’s ETJ during the meet-and-greet session.

“All the property owners along the south side of (Texas) 71 in our ETJ, they all signed development agreements . . .agreeing to keep their land as agricultural and timber and not do any of those things I just mentioned, and we didn’t annex them,” Farmer said.

The area of development agreements encompassed properties on the south side of Texas 71 as well as some of the north side of the highway between the Baylor-Scott & White Regional Hospital, located at Texas 71 and U.S. 281, and the Horseshoe Bay Resort Airport.

“We have the protection that those things won’t come without annexing them,” Farmer said.

The council finalized the bulk of the annexation in February and is expected to complete the process with at least six more properties in the next several weeks.

On the recent welcome event, Farmer said the aim was to engage the newest additions to the city.

“We did an outreach to those people, and they all seemed pretty happy,” he said. “They all realize, they don’t want their neighbors to do any of those things I mentioned.

“The ranchers also have the protection that their neighbors wouldn’t do it,” he added. “It turned out to be a win-win for everyone.”

connie@thepicayune.com

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