By CHRISTIN COYNE
ANNETTA – After hearing from Annetta residents and those petitioning to be Annetta residents last week, the Annetta Town Council is expected to vote next month on whether to annex the city’s water customers into city limits – a move that city leaders say could nearly double the city’s population.
During public hearings held July 16 and Thursday, interested parties showed up to ask questions and make their opinions known. Many supported the annexation while others questioned if the move would benefit current city residents.
The council voted last month to accept the annexation petitions signed by more than 500 affected voters – more than 60 percent of registered voters living in the Deer Creek and Meadow Park subdivisions south of Annetta – and consider their request.
An estimated half of the city’s residents are on private wells, while approximately two-thirds of the city’s water customers reportedly live outside city limits.
Those on the Deer Creek water system say they dealt with a variety of issues during the time the City of Willow Park owned the water system, including water pressure issues and rates among the highest in the state.
Without representation on the Willow Park City Council, residents of Deer Creek, the City of Annetta, and the other East Parker County cities took the matter to court. After a legal battle that lasted for years, the sale of the system to the City of Annetta was finalized in 2010.
Annetta took out $1 million in bonds in 2012 to cover needed upgrades such as new wells and water storage and residents say many of the issues have been fixed or are in the works with the improvements to the system under the City of Annetta’s ownership and operation by the City of Hudson Oaks.
The hearings were held in response to the second annexation request submitted to the city in the past year by the group of county residents on the Deer Creek water system who have said they want a say in the city’s management of their water system.
Deer Creek resident Traci Fambrough said she promised former mayor Phil Lumsden several years ago that as the final stage of the water system deal, the area would seek annexation.
The water system affects everybody and if the system is going to be owned by the city, the residents need to be a part of the city, Fambrough said.
Steve Wood, the city’s attorney and a Deer Creek resident, spoke in favor of the annexation, saying the people of Annetta are great people and if the city decides to levy an ad valorem tax, he would be proud to pay his taxes to better the community.
It was a strange situation, Wood said. “Usually the people being annexed don’t want it.”
Steve Barron, a Deer Creek resident, said the “water debacle” affects residents on both sides of the line and those with property inside city limits are affected by the publicity, as well.
Annetta resident Mike Brasovan noted the area in question is already developed.
Brasovan said he is concerned annexation would change the culture of the city.
“I don’t oppose people being annexed into the city,” Annetta resident Vearl Chapman said. “I just don’t want my lifestyle to change.”
“They are already here,” Annetta resident Marc Wohl said of the Deer Creek residents living in the community, adding that there is strength in numbers. “This is the right thing to do for a lot of reasons.”