I wanted to get my opinion out regarding the annexing efforts of the City of Midlothian ( henceforth referred to as ‘The Gang’ ). Believe it or not, many people object to this group swooping in and claiming rights over private property. If I had wanted to live in the city, I would have chosen to do so. I realize there are many people that buy property in the country as an investment and annexation usually increases the value of that investment. I am not one of those people. Neither are most of my neighbors.
It’s only a matter of time and money that keep any city from consuming available land. Creating ETJ areas was a recognition of that voracity. The Gang is not special in that regard, they just happen to be the gang in power in this area. I had nothing against this particular gang before they descended on residents like an out of control HOA. While you might think you have something to offer for the increase in taxes, we see it as a move down, not up.
Between the direct city tax and the subsequent increase in property value, my taxes have increased by 30%. The only thing I get for my money is the promise of better fire and police service ( I hope I don’t test that ). We could have increased the staff for the county and had the same promise, but we decided we didn’t want to pay the money. We call that freedom of choice. The county did an excellent job of maintaining the streets. If they didn’t, we band together and allocate more money.
The gang just repaved the streets of a recently annexed neighborhood. I don’t know why. There were no holes, barely even a crack. I’m guessing it was to give them something to point to, claim we are getting something for our money, and make us feel better about the takeover. Nice job, but it doesn’t. Wonder how many streets that have been in the city a while really needed that work?
Perhaps, in the future, the gang can gobble up all the rural space first, saving most of it to preserve the country atmosphere and give farms and open areas someplace to be safe while providing necessary land use protection. Instead of waiting for areas to develop and then moving in to claim control. There would be far less unhappy people in the community. Those coming here would not have to worry about moving when the gang comes calling. But, I realize it is way too sensible for the laws to work that way and they appear to be on the side of the gangs, so we won’t see change from them.
The property owners that oppose this hostile takeover, including myself, will simply deal with it and mount whatever peaceful protest we see fit and then move on. Pay the extra money and deal with the burdensome laws, precisely as if all of the sudden an HOA had descended on the neighborhood like a gang of thugs. “Welcome, isn’t our vision for your property grand.”
It is a shame that the gang is willing to build this city by taking the rights of property owners, and grow a population of residents that are not intentional and voluntary members of your city. When city leadership wonder why more people don’t take the time and energy to get involved in building a progressive city, remember the percentage of residents you dragged into your city against their will. What kind of participation can you expect from residents that were victims of a hostile takeover? Is it possible that the cities have so little to offer county residents that they have to force people to join? The long term rewards for having a population that wants to be in the city and a population that sees the government spending more of their tax dollars actually improving the city, has got to be immense. When people want to be in the city they are likely to contribute to making the city a great place. Those unwilling participants are likely to be a neutral influence, at best.
When an issue of ‘Midlothian Matters’ comes out, much space is dedicated to how the area has grown and how many families are now in the city. I realize the intended purpose is to show what a great job our leadership is doing. I suspect many are impressed and just as many are not. They dare not give figures about what percentage of that growth was by force. Just how many people in the city do not want to be there? That has got to have a negative effect on the atmosphere of the community. I do understand some of the politics. People get elected and the easiest way to show something was done is to highlight how the population has grown, with the assurance being that the growth was based on people that wanted to be here and not forced in against their will.
The first annexation meeting was was right after Columbus Day. Now that we have a more accurate detailing of history that shows us exactly the sort of ‘might makes right’ Columbus used to ‘discover’ this country out from under the original owners. I see not much has changed. They figured out how to do it without the violence. At least until someone doesn’t pay. Yea, progress.
It has been mentioned that meetings with the City Council regarding annexation are required by law and I suspect that’s the only reason they happen. I don’t believe that the gang really cares whether we want to join the city or not. They have might on their side and there appears to be little we can do about it. These meetings are a formality and I suspect if it were up to most city councils, a registered letter would be notice enough, and the rest, a legal formality. Perhaps some dispensing with that in favor of ‘notice by first tax bill’.
They could not even take the initiative to send a welcome letter, explain new services, or at least try to defend the takeover. Nope, not a peep. I know they have my address. Perhaps I’m just another mark. I suppose for some residents, the less they get reminded of their involuntary inclusion in the gang, the better.
If Midlothian can’t expand they might end up like Highland Park, oh no. Land-locked on all sides and forced to spend their tax dollars on improvements on what they have. Quality instead of quantity. Imagine that a population clamoring to become a part of the city, instead of the city clamoring to gobble up unwilling populations. What a concept.
The argument that people who use city provided infrastructure and services should pay for them is spurious at best. Should the residents of Midlothian proper be expected to pay when they visit places like Waxahachie, Cedar Hill, or even other states. How about when city residents come to the country to mooch our once open spaces, long ago fresh air, and past peaceful countryside. Of course not. We pay a fee for living in the US and communities get their cut (ideally) so we don’t have to pay a fee as we drive from one taxing entity to another. I’m sorry that the city does not charge a large enough fee to non-city residents for the use of their facilities, talk to the accountants. Besides, when Wal-Mart came in, Midlothian began to look like any other appendage of a metropolitan area.
So, how about voluntary annexation. If the city has enough to offer, people will want to join. If someone wants to be part of the city, get 90% percent of the area to agree and petition the city. Work on building the finest city around and people will want to live there. It can continue to spend it’s time getting bigger, with the associated legal wrangling and ill will, or become better and more attractive. The demand to be part of the city will drive up the price of houses and old houses will be replaced by new. Property values will rise and revenue will increase. ETJ’s should protect unincorporated areas from unenlightened neighboring cities from getting too close and those of us that like being outside of the city’s sphere of influence can live happily. Residents of the city will more likely be there because they chose to. Midlothian benefits from having a healthy rural community. Its healthy because it’s happy. Not to mention their taxes going to improve the city services instead of financing growth. Just because you have the space to plop cookie cutter houses, does not mean you should. The old saying, ‘Cut down the forest and then name the streets after the trees’.
It’s a incredible shame the gang will gobble up all the rural spaces that give this town it’s uniqueness. Like an unchecked herd that consumes all without regard to what it is losing. I think the future will see cities becoming more and more responsible for their own well being. Farmers cannot afford city property and we need farms. Let’s work it out. The city needs to make sure there are Land Trusts that preserve the farming community. It just makes good sense for a community to make sure it has resources that are close to home.
We can be a progressive community that attracts residents, not one that relies on forcing people to either join the gang or move.