With the special session of the Texas Legislature less than a month away, the House Committee on Military Affairs held a hearing in San Antonio today to discuss one of the key issues facing lawmakers--a proposal by Gov. Greg Abbott to restrict the ability of cities to freely annex outlaying areas within their extra territorial jurisdictions, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The City of San Antonio is attempting to annex a wide area of northwest Bexar County, and one reason is to impose land use restrictions designed to protect Camp Bullis. Many City officials say Camp Bullis is in danger of being closed in the next round of base closings if development, traffic, and lighting get too close to the post.
"Last session, people did not believe that annexation was a tool that was necessary for the city to protect our bases," State Sen. Jose Menendez said. Menendez single handedly killed the proposal in the final hours of the regular session through a filibuster.
The bill Abbott supports would prohibit cities from annexing new territory unless the people who live in the area to be annexed support it. Supporters say a basic property right is the right to decide who will govern you, and the current policy allows their jurisdiction to be changed without their consent.
The City of San Antonio argues that, since counties have no authority to zone property, only annexation to the city will allow the regulations to be imposed to protect the med-evac pilot and medic training mission at Camp Bullis, which, until a few years ago, was surrounded by undeveloped ranch land.
Menendez called on veterans and those who support the existing military missions at Camp Bullis to descend on Austin next month.
"I need you all, every one of you who is willing to come to Austin Texas, to talk about why we need to protect the bases, the installations, and the missions," he said
.One compromise floated by Menendez, would be to allow not just the people being annexed to vote, but residents of the entire community to vote on the annexation. The City says most of the people who live in the unincorporated area work, go shopping, participate in recretation activities and go to buisnesses like restaurants inside the city limits, where they use roads, police and fire services, and other city provided activities without paying for them through property taxes.