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Ennis continues annexation toward Waxahachie

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The Ellis County Press

ENNIS - If approved by commissioners on Sept. 1, the City of Ennis will extend its borders a mile west toward Waxahachie by annexing 121 acres of land along U.S. Highway 287.

'We have a right under state law to annex,' Ennis City Manager Steve Howerton said.

Joe Bouldin, owner of Alligator Jack's restaurant, said he felt the council was targeting him unfairly by attempting to annex his property into the city limits.

'If I wanted to be in the city. I would have built in the city,' Bouldin

said at a recent city council meeting.

'I am not a corporate chain. I can't afford Ennis.'

He said taxes on his land, taxes on the building and charging a different tax rate to his customers could cause economic problems for business.

Questions arose as commissioners asked if Bouldin would be required by the city to renovate his building or parking lot to city code standards after being pulled into the city's boundaries.

Howerton said because Bouldin's restaurant was built to county code standards and appeared to meet regulations, it would be grandfathered when annexed into the city.

The city manager did say if the owner wanted to add additional space to his business, the new addition would be required to be built to the standards of the current city codes.

'The parking area would have cost me five times what it did (actually) cost if I built to city codes in the city,' Bouldin said later.

He said he did not understand why the city was so intent on pushing the annexation plan through so quickly, when there has been no major development surrounding his restaurant.

'It's like we're in some rubber horse stamp race against Waxahachie,' Bouldin said.

'It is a starting point,' Ennis Mayor Russell Thomas said, noting the annexation process began earlier this year in June.

The city wants to set standards for development which will eventually come to the Highway 287 corridor, which is vital to both cities, according to Howerton.

'We're doing this to protect our environment,' Howerton said.

Under state law all annexed areas must be provided with certain city services within two and a half years of being annexed into the city limits.

These services are required to be described in a service plan.

Police protection, fire protection, emergency medical services, operation and maintenance of roads are just some of the services included in a service plan from the city.

'The service plan is a joke,' Boudlin said.

He asked commissioners if a fire hydrant would be installed near his restraurant, if the fire department ever needed to be called to the scene.

Howerton said the city would have to look into installing a hydrant, but noted in the past hydrants have been installed at other businesses after they were annexed into the city.

'We're trying to treat everyone the same,' Howerton said.

While building his structure, Bouldin said he requested assistance from the city for help in installing water lines to his property on Hwy. 287.

He was denied.

Most cities require developers to install their own infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewer pipelines.

Howerton said Ennis was no different.

'Whenever they build an infrastructure, the developers put in the roads and lines for water and sewer services,' he said.

Bouldin, at his own expense, said he had to install 5,000 feet (almost a mile) of pipe to meet the nearest Rockett water supply to obtain water service for his business.

Ennis and Waxahachie's city limits will be seperated by about two and a half miles once the annexation is complete, Howerton said.

'They're (Waxahachie) enlarging their city to the east. We are enlarging our city to the west,' Howerton said.
'We plan to meet in the middle. It is just a routine thing. Very appropriate.'

'The real issue is not development. Control is the real issue,' Bouldin said. 'Once you annex, you annex forever.'

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