Despite protestations from a crowd of Parker County residents, the Weatherford City Council Tuesday night scheduled public hearings on the question of whether or not to involuntarily annex 1,300 acres to the north.
With Mayor Craig Swancy voting against the motion, other council members voted to schedule public hearings on the matter for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, with a vote on annexation to be held Oct. 10.
“As we all know the area around Weatherford continues to grow,” City Manager Sharon Hayes told the city council. “As it does, the city is interested in ensuring the development is consistent with our long-term plan and the long-term interests of the city. This is especially true in the large undeveloped acres.”
The areas that Weatherford has proposed to annex include more than 1,100 acres and stretches from Cartwright Park along portions of Peaster Highway, Zion Hill Road and Zion Hill Loop and more than 200 acres of land in the area of Zion Hill Loop.
Peaster residents in May submitted a petition to the county calling for a vote on whether to incorporate an area within the Peaster community.
The City of Weatherford has not answered questions about whether Weatherford is concerned about the proposed Peaster incorporation encroaching on the city’s plans for the northern part of Weatherford or whether the annexation would extend Weatherford’s ETJ in the same area that Peaster residents have petitioned to incorporate.
A number of affected Parker County residents showed up to oppose the involuntary annexation proposal Tuesday night.
Courtney Butler, a resident 4 miles outside Weatherford city limits, said they chose the location of their home intentionally outside city limits.
The government of Weatherford is acting as a master rather than a servant of the people in involuntarily annexing property, Butler said.
“We deserve a vote if this council proceeds further with this unwanted annexation,” Butler said.
Connie Cerveny, who lives on Zion Hill Loop, said her family last year finished renovating their retirement home outside the city.
Cerveny said they purposefully sought a place outside the city where they could enjoy waking up with their rooster crowing, watch cows and goats graze from their porch and where their grandchildren could experience raising animals, shooting bb guns and setting off fireworks on July 4th.
“If you annex our property in the northern annexation, you destroy our retirement dreams and the chance to share true country life with our grandchildren and the neighbors’ grandchildren, which we believe they deserve,” Cerveny said.
Cerveny said she does not understand why the City of Weatherford chose the proposed annexation lines.
“Looking at the maps, it makes no sense to have these sections cut out to be in the city while across the road and other surrounding properties will remain in the county,” Cerveny said. “And some of the non-annexed property is actually closer to the city limits than the property being annexed.”
“Further, it looks like the city was prepared for expansion being done to the south but I don’t see any preparations being made for any expansions to the north of the city such as fire stations, road improvements and those kinds of services.”
Helen Lawrence Hearnsberger, a lifelong resident of the Zion Hill area, said area residents wish to remain outside the city.
“I wish you’d reconsider this because I know just because you can do it doesn’t really mean that you should do it,” Hearnsberger said. “It is not in our best interest.”
“We do not wish to be overcome by city rules,” Hearnsberger said. “We know that you are not going to be putting out city utilities, furnishing a police department for one side of the road while not on the other side of the road.”
“We all feel like we’re being railroaded into this deal that’s not fair,” Randal Peck said, asking that the council reconsider the annexation.
R.D. Witt, who owns property on Zion Hill Loop and is a member of the Zion Hill Community Center and Zion Hill Cemetery Association, said the annexation would put hardship, sorrow and financial burden on residents.
Witt said he’d planned to bring his grandchildren out to his land to teach them about raising cattle and hunting.
“We need your help and your compassion to not go through with this,” Witt said. “It’s not necessary. There’s other areas that you can do this.”