FRISCO — Frisco’s newest citizens didn’t want any part of city life.
For months, more than two dozen residents along Plum Lane begged and pleaded with city officials to leave their neighborhood alone. They cherished the lack of regulations and the absence of city tax payments that come with county living.
But with one swift vote on Tuesday night, the city council approved the involuntary annexation of their neighborhood, instantly making them Frisco residents and simultaneously gaining control over nearby commercial development.
“We have zero rights and zero say in this,” said John Ross, who’s lived in the unincorporated area for more than 27 years.
The 78 acres surrounded by the cities of McKinney and Frisco has been in Frisco’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, for years. And for a long time, the city was content to keep it that way.
Neighbors, many of whom have lived there for decades, banded together to help each other out over the years. Living outside city limits allowed them to put up outbuildings and sheds at will. Several operate businesses from home. They have septic systems and their own water supply. They contract for their own trash pickup.
But the area is showing its age. The private road is pocked with holes. Fire hydrants are painted black to signal inadequate water flow for firefighting.
A fire hydrant in the newly annexed neighborhood along Plum Lane is painted black to signal that it has inadequate water flow for firefighting.
A few years ago, a storage business was built with county permits that didn’t consider the city’s future plans to widen Westridge Boulevard beyond two lanes. The city took notice.
Last year, construction started on a 132-unit apartment complex with county permits, again renewing the city’s interest. The units are being built along Westridge Boulevard north of the Plum Lane neighborhood.
Developers ADC West Ridge LLP and the Center for Housing Resources Inc. filed a complaint against the city of Frisco over water and sewer service to the project. They say the city is unlawfully denying utility service. Frisco has said the developers must follow the city’s process by submitting plans and installing certain infrastructure themselves. The dispute is pending with the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
Caught in the middle
In January city officials initiated the involuntary annexation process to “bring some order to the development” in its extraterritorial jurisdiction. The Plum Lane area got caught in the middle.
City officials hired consultant Buddy Minett in hopes of reaching a compromise that accomplished the city’s goals without harming the residents, many of whom said they couldn’t afford the extra property taxes from the city. The proposal called for property owners to conform to city regulations and grant utility easements. It also delayed formal annexation and city tax payments for 10 years.
But the deal required participation from everyone.
“Some property owners had legitimate issues,” said Minett, who served on the city council in the late 1990s when Frisco first considered annexing the area but opted against it. “We should have done it then.”
Without 100 percent participation in the compromise, the city moved ahead Tuesday with involuntary annexation.
Tim Legat asked the Frisco City Council on Tuesday for more time to try to get property owners to agree to the city’s compromise. Without 100 percent participation, the council approved the involuntary annexation.
“I feel let down,” Tim Legat said after the vote. He bought his home on Plum Lane in 2003 and has been an outspoken opponent to the city’s takeover.
The annexation means city police and fire service will now respond to calls in the area. But Frisco has no plans to upgrade utilities or improve the road.
Ross said a lot of his neighbors are upset.
“They don’t want us,” he said of the city. “We’re more work for them than they want. The only reason they’re taking us is to control the businesses to the north of us.”
Legat believes the state legislature needs to take a broader look at the law, which gives property owners no say in the fate of their land.
“It’s one of the few laws that allows government to take a heavy hand with the power to annex,” he said. “No matter what we say, we do not have a vote.”
This is the area that was annexed into the city of Frisco. Tract 1 contains the residential homes along Plum Lane. Tract 4 is where the apartment complex is being built.