Only two people showed up to speak at City Council Wednesday during the first public hearing regarding the annexation of the Highway 281 North Commercial Corridor, consisting of 1.89 sq. miles within Bexar and Comal counties.
“That’s about 221 parcels, but because it’s less than 100 residential (parcels), we don’t have to have the three-year municipal plan,” said the City’s Department of Planning & Community Development Director Bridgett White. The three-year municipal annexation plan includes the I-10 West and Hwy 281 North areas.
Cities perform a three-year study of an area before it is annexed so they can prepare to provide additional services, such as fire and police protection, to residents in those areas. Those requirements don’t apply to the Hwy 281 North Commercial Corridor since it is more commercial than residential.
Currently, the City is moving forward with four different annexation proposals for areas outside the city limits, an endeavor that City Council approved on Sept. 8. This also included a discussion of the annexation of the Hwy 281 North residential area, an 11 square mile area containing both residential and vacant properties. Council decided that this portion would get a 17-year non-annexation agreement, meaning it won’t be integrated into the city until January 2034.
Annexation is the process by which cities extend the grasp of their municipal services, their regulations, voting privileges, and their taxing authority to newly acquired territory.
“We look at annexation for a number of reasons,” White said. “We want to look at our zoning: how do we protect development, what areas are close to the military bases … (and focus) on protection.”
As areas grow, White added, they contribute to the City of San Antonio, so it’s important to make sure that residents are protected in those areas. Commonly cited annexation benefits include financing urban level services and capital projects, promoting economic growth, protecting future development, and protecting military installations.
Annexation, City staff has said, helps organize growth and prevent disorder, and the financial strength of the city has an impact on everyone in the surrounding regions, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to contribute through property taxes.
One individual who stood up to speak Wednesday seemed to not understand the topic at hand. The other, Meredith McGuire, who represents the Sierra Club, warned about the dangers of sprawl and cited increased pollution, traffic congestion, and housing developments which could negatively affect the Edwards Aquifer.
The second City Council Public Hearing concerning the annexation of the Hwy 281 North Commercial Corridor will take place Nov. 9.