Denton's planned annexation of thousands of rural acres isn't going over well with residents.
City leaders are looking to accelerate -- and control -- the city's growth. Denton has plans to annex 18 parcels of land in and around the city. The parcels are almost 9,000 acres, mostly rural and nearly all near a major corridor such as Interstate 35, Loop 288 or U.S. 380.
Before the economic recession hit, Denton was listed as the ninth-fastest growing city in the United States. And even in the downturn, its growth has remained consistent.
But the folks who have lived in the unincorporated areas to avoid city life say the annexation is a land grab.
“You're making nothing but enemies out of this group of people,” property owner Ray Roberts told the Denton City Council at a public hearing.
Roberts wasn’t alone in his criticism. The room was packed with folks who enjoy their country-style lives and say the thought of higher city taxes, less control over their land and quality-of-life issues are all enough to spark protests.
“What is requiring the city to annex this property? Is it to control development or an attempt to shore up a declining tax base?” said property owner Kent Wolfe.
“We still believe this is a land grab for the future taxation purposes to control the people,” said Melissa Vardus another homeowner.
But the city said the plans will not change people's way of life.
“This annexation will not impact your quality of life or your way of life,” City Planner Marc Cunningham said.
But Cunningham conceded that the land that will become part of Denton will have to pay city taxes, something many have avoided over the years.
Cunningham said some land that is considered agricultural property will receive exemptions from the city, so farmers and ranchers won’t be affected by any city development plans for years. But the deal also restricts landowners from striking their own deal with a developer to do something with their land. Any developments that aren’t related to agriculture needs would void such exemptions.
“We're planning for future growth, not to sit back and allow growth to overcome us,” Cunningham said.
Denton estimates it will cost approximately $260,000 to provide city services to the areas of the proposed annexation.
A final vote is expected in May.