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Red Oak annexation angers Deer Creek residents

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RUSTY WELLER

Ellis County Press Managing Editor

RED OAK - Deer Creek residents just want to be left alone. But the unincorporated subdivision is a key part of the City of Red Oak's plans.

Despite their impassioned pleas at public hearings Monday and Tuesday nights, residents claim city officials have told them on Dec. 28 - like it or not — their subdivision will be annexed into Red Oak.

Many Deer Creek families, hard pressed financially for various reasons, claim they can't afford Red Oak taxes.

'I don't want to pay $500 more a year for Red Oak police and fire,' Shirley Miranda told the Ellis County Press. 'We've already got the Sheriff's police and the county's fire protection, and our kids get to go to Waxahachie schools. We're well taken care of.'

That may be, but the city claims it must annex the 392-acre area and five other parcels to control development. On Dec. 28, the council is scheduled to vote on including Deer Creek by extending its municipal boundaries along Interstate 35E, U.S. Highway 77 and State Highway 342.

'It's wrong what's being done here,' said Miranda, who presented a petition with 100 signatures. 'Nobody seems to be able to stop ‘em. It doesn't matter what we say; they're going to annex us anyway.'

That's right. As a home-rule city, Red Oak legally has the authority to annex land without owners' approval. Red Oak began its program of involuntary annexations in 1997.

Miranda said she is just getting back on her feet financially after her son's cancer bills and can't afford to pay the extra tax. One home after another comes reports of medical bills or financial distress.

'I'm not the only one,' she said. 'We're not dirt poor, but everyone out here has a similar story.

'I already pay $1,192 to the county and school,' she said, 'so I would be paying almost $2,000 a year.'

Residents in the proposed annexation area have septic tanks, 'and they all work fine,' Miranda said. Water, police and fire protection, street repairs and trash collection also is supplied and said to be no problem.

But Red Oak's plans call for the city to expand four times its present size - and Deer Creek stands in the way of progress. At first the city appeared to have a way to achieve its objectives without annexing the subdivision, but it didn't work out. Half of the Deer Creek is being annexed this year, with the rest scheduled for 2001.

The proposed annexation area will be zoned for commercial uses, such as shopping centers and restaurants. Deer Creek reportedly will be zoned residential, but the city apparently won't allow housing construction elsewhere in the annexation area, frustrating plans some residents have to build homes.

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