Thursday, November 25, 2010

Coupland hears about neighboring cities' expansions--incorporation committee forms

At the Coupland Civic Organization meeting on October 25, an audience of about 60 heard from Taylor and Elgin officials about their cities’ annexation plans and their thoughts on the situation in the Coupland area.

Taylor’s plans

Taylor City Manager Jim Dunaway said that since Taylor’s last annexation, there are no more plans to go south along Hwy. 95. If Taylor goes south, it would be on 973. The new high school will open in the fall of 2011, and Taylor may annex there in 1012 or 13. In addition to the area around the new high school, Taylor will focus toward its northwest in the Chandler Road area.

The line between Pflugerville and Manor is Manda-Carlson Rd. because of an agreement. Pflugerville does not want to be any farther east, at least right now. Also, in August, Pflugerville and Taylor agreed that Pflugerville relinquished its ETJ in the Rice’s Crossing area, giving up its ETJ there that was in Williamson County. Dunaway said that Taylor was talking to Manor and Elgin “trying to negotiate a line between us.”

Elgin’s plans

Elgin Mayor Marc Holm said that Elgin and Coupland are in a similar situation. There is intense growth east of Austin. It is going to continue to be a desirable area. There are a lot of plans still in play. There will be pressure on Coupland, with developments coming.

He and other Elgin officials explained that their effort to voluntarily add property to the Elgin ETJ by sending letters to people who are in the Elgin ISD is a defensive effort in response to aggressive annexation by Manor. Manor is attempting to move to its northeast. If Manor is successful, its ETJ would be north of Elgin, between Elgin and Coupland, and moving toward Coupland. If Elgin can expand its ETJ toward Coupland, this would protect Coupland from Manor.

Mayor Holm said that Elgin is having to respond or decisions will be made for it. That’s a challenge that Coupland and Elgin have in common. He concluded that Central Texas is still the area for growth. He advised Coupland to create our own city or the decision will be taken away from us, and not too far in the future.

Taylor and Elgin in discussions

Jim Dunaway, Taylor city manager, said if Coupland does not choose incorporation, we have to decide which city will take us over. Current city officials can’t tell us what future city councils will do.

Taylor is in discussions with Elgin and Manor to agree that those cities will stop at the Williamson County line. If this comes to pass, it leaves Coupland only within the reach of Taylor for future annexation, given that Pflugerville says it does not want to come past Manda/Carlson Road. However, both Dunaway and Mayor Holm said we can’t predict what future city councils will do.

Business development could threaten Coupland

Greg Vick, Elgin interim city manager, doesn’t think the biggest threat to Coupland now is from a city; he thinks it would be a big development. Someone could be planning a big development for the Coupland area, and when something happens, it’s too late for us to have any control over it. Right now, Coupland has the ability to make these decisions. Greg Vick said the threat is not so much residential developments, but business developments.

Coupland incorporation committee

At the end of the meeting, Susan Schmidt announced that she is forming a committee to work on incorporation. She asked people who were interested to get in touch with her.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The 2011 session--eminent domain protection redux

Sen. Craig Estes has refiled his bill to limit eminent domain takings to projects that are only for public use. Last session, the Senate passed this legislation, but it got caught up in the log-jam of bills that did not pass in the House when time ran out. This time, it is called Senate Bill 180, which redefines “public use” and includes compensation for diminished access. SB 180 also ends land speculation by the government.

Estes said, “I believe one of the most important functions of government is the protection of private property and the interests of property owners. Our ability to own and profit from private property is fundamental to not just our economic liberty, but also our personal liberty."

Here's hoping that this session does not end in the disarray of the previous session, when valuable legislation like this, that was on its way to being passed, was simply lost when time ran out.