Kaufman County Residents Fight Mesquite's Annexation Plan - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Kaufman County Residents Fight Mesquite's Annexation Plan

Mesquite races to expand before change in state law

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    Kaufman County Residents Fight Mesquite's Annexation Plan

    Homeowners in Kaufman County vow to fight any effort by the city of Mesquite to annex their land before a change in state law that would make such expansion more difficult. (Published Friday, Sept. 22, 2017)

    Homeowners in Kaufman County vow to fight any effort by the city of Mesquite to annex their land before a change in state law that would make such expansion more difficult.

    "That's crazy," said Ronna Smith. "Just leave us alone."

    Smith and her husband, Bart, built a home on a spacious country lot about 15 years ago to get away from the city, they said.

    "When we moved out here it was so peaceful and quiet, and we love it," Ronna Smith said.

    Mesquite City Hall already placed dibs on the land several years ago, making it part of its "extra territorial jurisdiction."

    City manager Cliff Kehele said that's the way cities grow.

    "A lot of cities are landlocked," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to look for additional growth in our community."

    Kehele said public hearings are planned, and citizens will be able to voice their opinions before the council votes on the plan.

    He acknowledged the city is trying to finish the process before a change in state law on Dec. 1. The change would require people in unincorporated areas to approve any annexation, in effect outlawing cities from forcing expansions on unwilling neighbors.

    The Smiths said their neighbors in a nine-square-mile area are united against becoming part of Mesquite.

    "I think just for the extra tax dollars," Bart Smith said. "What else could it be? They have no services out here."

    Kehele said if the annexation goes through, the city would provide services like police and fire protection.

    But the Smiths say they're just fine living in an unincorporated area.

    "We're in Kaufman County. They're in Mesquite. That's all there is to it," Ronna Smith said. "We don't need them out here. We don't want them out here."

    Kaufman County doesn't want to give up the land either.

    "It's sort of like big government coming in and saying 'we got you,' whether you like it or not," Kaufman County Commissioner Jakie Allen said.

    Republican State Rep. Lance Gooden, who represents Kaufman County, also blasted Mesquite's actions and said it was a clear attempt to get around the new state law.

    "Mesquite's attempt to beat the clock is in violation of the spirit of the law that was passed to stop these land grabs," Gooden said. "I'm hopeful Mesquite's leaders will have nothing to show for these shameful efforts come December 1st."

    The Smiths and their neighbors say they plan to fight.

    "Until the end," Ronna Smith said.

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