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Cibolo girds for annexation battle

Folks in ETJ call move an effort to sidestep a decision at ballot box

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Cibolo officials at a meeting in January plan to discuss a report on annexation, including possibly de-annexing a parcel on West Schaefer Road. Photo by Collette Orquiz

CIBOLO —  Property owners within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction are raising a ruckus about annexation and de-annexation.

A subcommittee’s report on the city’s proposed annexation process is expected to be discussed at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting, Mayor Stosh Boyle said.

The issue has been a hot-button topic lately.

Several residents took municipal officials to task at a Dec. 11 session for reigniting annexation discussions after originally agreeing to wait until the new year, due to contention over proposed  acquisitions of land around the FM 78 and FM 1103 areas.

Boyle said the city is trying to control development on its borders, adding he looks forward to arriving at a “happy” solution benefiting any who may be affected.

“Our concern (for residents) is quality of life,” he said. “We don’t want lots being built next to $300,000-$400,000 homes, which would not be fair to citizens. It’s a little bit of a juggling act, but we are communicating (to residents) what they city’s needs are and (residents) are communicating to the city what their needs are.”

One fear is any smaller lots could be used for manufactured homes. According to reports, more than 1,500 single-family homes could be erected in the area.

Many folks who came to the Dec. 11 public hearing, however, questioned the  motives behind de-annexing 69.1 acres of land, resulting in Cibolo moving from a Tier 2 city to Tier 1 status.

Some are dubious because the action permits the town to avoid calling an annexation vote among residents in the ETJ, which state law requires for Tier 2 municipalities.

Shedding the land, or changing to Tier 1 status, would allow Cibolo to exercise “forced annexation” options.

According to reports, the land – located at 260 W. Schaefer Road — was partially annexed in 1986 and 2016 to prevent development and protect the city from potential flooding issues. It was annexed in two tracts.

City records indicate Cibolo hasn’t collected property-tax revenue on the land, which is under Bexar County jurisdiction.

“Knowing you haven’t received any money, it looks like you’re trying to get these other acres so you can make $1 million on those other properties,” Kenneth Davis said during the meeting.

Others in the audience who spoke labeled the city’s newly discussed annexation plans as “shady” and “disingenuous.”

“If you de-annex, shame on you as a city because you made a promise to those people to wait … and to allow the process to work itself out,” Karen Latimer  told officials.

“We are not foolish, we are not naïve, and we are not children,” neighbor Larry Johnston added. “We understand that if you don’t turn (the land back), you remain a Tier 2 city. You have to allow us to vote and you don’t want us to vote. You want to tell us what you’re going to do and dictate the terms of it. To come to us and say we are going to do this because we don’t need (the land) anymore is ridiculous.”

With “no possibility” of future development or residential growth on the West Schaefer Road land, a Cibolo spokeswoman said officials are reviewing other nonannexation options that would allow the city to become a Tier 1 municipality while keeping the land within its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The council is trying to preserve the look and feel of Cibolo without it being compromised by “inconsistent standards coming into the city as we grow.”

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