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PGA inspires annex opponents

Despite the tremendous controversy that embroiled the City during its passage through political channels, the PGA Tour development has inspired residents who live outside the city limits.

Then-Mayor Ed Garza’s determination to give a 29-year annexation deferment to PGA Village, and then to PGA Tour, paved the way for a lawsuit brought against the City by the Summerglen Property Owners Association and a handful of dwellers in the extraterritorial jurisdiction who currently do not pay city taxes. Other subdivisions hired their own lawyers and filed as intervenors in the suit.

One of the main arguments is what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Or rather, that residents of Summerglen, Northwood Hills, Fossil Creek, Lookout Canyon Creek, Indian Springs, and other neighborhoods that lie within 1 1/2 miles of PGA Tour also qualify for the 29-year annexation deferment, according to a 2005 lawsuit brought against the City.

A copy of House Bill 585 was included as evidence in the briefs filed in district court. According to a portion of the bill, a property that lies with a mile-and-a-half of a property that has a deferred annexation agreement for a minimum of 10 years is also entitled to a deferred annexation.

According to the petition in the lawsuit filed in district court on December 12, 2002, the City added Summerglen, which encompasses Laredo Springs, Mountain Lodge, and Canyon Springs, to areas it planned to annex in December 2005. The City prepared an inventory of services, which includes the basics, such as water supply and sewage treatment, fire and police protection, and garbage retrieval and disposal in August 2003.

To add an historical perspective, an example of bad annexation practice was the Schirmerville sector of east Bexar County in the late 1980s. San Antonio annexed the properties served by Ware-Seguin and Pfeil roads, along I-10 East a couple miles past Loop 1604. But the nearest water line stopped at Foster Road, and Bexar County deputies were the only law enforcement that patrolled the area. Water and garbage service? Forget it.

Schirmerville residents petitioned to be de-annexed since the City had provided no services for the past 10 years. The City agreed, and Schertz eventually extended its city limits to include the area. Today Schertz provides water, garbage, and police protection, although residents along Pfeil Road still use septic systems.

Today’s annexation practice provides for a city to work in three-year annexation cycles. San Antonio was supposed to draft a service plan for Summerglen on or before October 1, 2003, or the first day of the 10th month after the month in which an inventory is prepared.

According to the Summerglen lawsuit, the City had only a draft service plan, not an inventory assessment, by October 2003. And, the lawsuit asserts, the City still has only a draft.

Maybe it was lost at the same time a PGA contract disappeared from then-City Attorney Andrew Martin’s safe, or maybe the City never adopted the service plan.

Summerglen residents, who hired municipal-law powerhouse David Earl, asked for arbitration, and contend the City never cooperated.

District Judge David Berchelmann granted a temporary injunction to the deferment seekers, allowing the parties time to settle this issue, but the Fourth Court of Appeals reversed his decision.

An appeal has been filed with the Texas Supreme Court, but the whole issue is probably moot, says Buddy Socks, attorney for intervenors who live in Fossil Creek near PGA. “The City did not annex those areas it was required to annex by January. Under state statute they cannot be put back on the annexation plan for two years.”

Finally, PGA is doing something good for the community, albeit by inspiring its neighbors to jump on the gravy train and avoid paying City taxes for 29 years.

By Michael Cary

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