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Control cited for Red Oak annexation plans

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DIANA BUCKLEY

Ellis County Press

RED OAK - Control seems to be the main reason behind the city's methodical 'involuntary annexation' plan. In a letter to owners of property selected for annexation, Mayor Todd Little and City Manager Ken Pfeifer wrote, 'In an effort to create the most desirable City for our citizens, an annexation committee was appointed to study and recommend properties to be annexed during the year 2000.

'The committee was in full agreement to annex property that was most crucial to protect the city from undesirable businesses and development.

'Therefore, the committee felt properties located along major thoroughfares must be our city's first priority.'

As a 'home-rule' city, Red Oak is permitted by law to annex a certain amount of land without property owners' permission.

Red Oak voters approved home-rule status in 1997 after a survey indicated the city had more than the minimum 5,000 residents. Some have said the survey inflated the numbers, making the home-rule claim illegal.

According to an article in the Dec. 9 issue of the Dallas Morning News, the Texas State Data Center posted a count of 4,069 in 1997, and a North Central Texas Council of Governments estimate in January of this year was 5,250.

Since establishing home rule, the city has annexed the maximum amount of land each year, in spite of opposition.

Residents of the Deer Creek subdivision were among those objecting to the annexation at last week's public hearings.

'Why not the golf course?' asked Deer Creek resident Shirley Miranda in a call to the Ellis County Press. 'We didn't ask to be in their city and we don't want their rules.'

Red Oak zoning regulations, which would be imposed on annexed properties, affect such things as keeping animals and parking semi-truck cabs in residential areas. City officials claim regulations are intended to protect property values, as are the city's plans to prohibit 'undesirable' businesses such as pawnshops, car repair shops, car lots, self-storage facilities, and manufacturing.

City officials also cite 'quality of life' improvements for Deer Creek residents, including fire and police protection and lower-cost trash removal. But residents say they have all those amenities now and Red Oak's version will cost them more and gain them little.

At a tax rate of $.64 per $100 of valuation, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $640 a year in additional tax after annexation.

'They should have romanced us before they laid us down,' said Miranda. 'I don't want to be associated with such an underhanded town.'

'I'm surprised there's no one here to speak,' said Little near the end of a regular council meeting held on Monday, Dec. 11. 'We've gotten used to seeing them here.' Little reminded council members they would all need to attend the special meeting set for Thursday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. to vote on the annexation.

According to City Secretary Judy Grant, officials are considering setting an alternative date in case of bad weather on Dec. 28. 'We haven't done it yet,' she said, 'So I'd rather not print it, but they may possibly be scheduling another meeting on the 29.'

Law requires the meeting to be posted at least 72 hours in advance.

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