By Rita Cook / Staff Writer
RED OAK – The signs around the City of Red Oak might be a little misleading when referring to an upcoming annexation.
Two public hearings are being held on Aug. 13 and 14, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers to discuss and allow residents to give their view on an upcoming voluntary annexation. This annexation is to extend the boundary limits of the city to include 210.29 acres not currently included in the city, but are in the county.
“It is a developer driven annexation in order to develop land,” Red Oak City Manager Todd Fuller confirmed in an email response.
So this clears annexation issue up, but if residents are still shaking their heads about the signs, these were meant to raise awareness for a broader Ellis County issue.
The signs around town do refer to annexation, but it is a far-reaching look at the topic with a mission to stop many of the cities in Ellis County from being able to annex properties in the county without input from the citizens.
“Just to clarify, annexation has always been a concern of ours,” said Sandy Wickware, Realtor® speaking on behalf of the group who are concerned about annexation in the area. “Right now, there is no petition for a specific annexation that I am aware of, but rather one to reclassify our entire county. This can be accomplished by helping Ellis County become a Tier 2 County.”
In order to be a Tier 2 county, the group must have registered voter residents of the County sign a petition. When the goal is reached with petition signatures the cities will then be required to have a vote of the citizens before they are allowed to annex.
Wickware said, “annexation does not guarantee city services, but it does guarantee city taxes and regulations. Residents who have purchased property in the county, outside of city limits, did so usually intentionally. Regardless of whether you reside inside or outside of the city limits, if you are a registered voter and a resident of Ellis County, we need your signature on the petition to achieve Tier 2 County status.”
From a personal standpoint, Wickware said she was a long-time Ellis County resident and had no desire to be annexed into the city.
“We enjoy our little piece of country,” she said. “We moved to the county for a reason, to not have city taxes and to not be under city code. As of right now, we suspect in Red Oak that we may be on the radar as we are in their ETJ. They are currently working on annexing behind the Life School. I do not reside in that area, but I know people who do. The increased traffic in their area will be a real burden. Also, that will put current Waxahachie residents within reach of the City of Red Oak.”
Pat O’Connell who has been the working head of the project for a petition to reclassify Ellis County as a Tier 2 County said, “This project was started in February and is within days of being done now. Deadline is Aug. 6. This project is not about Red Oak, it is about Ellis County and the 242 other counties that are currently Tier 1 and have to petition to become Tier 2.”
Whether residents are for or against annexation, both city staff and those working to get signatures for their petition emphasize the importance of attending public meetings and sharing their opinion.
“We do not wish to have the extra burden of the taxes that will not benefit us in any meaningful way,” Wickware concluded.