City wise to pursue east side annexation

Kudos to city planners to thinking of this town’s image and its future.

Last week’s announcement that the city would pursue the annexation of more than 144 acres beyond its eastern city limits shows foresight and thoughtful planning.

The reasons for annexation are many. This will provide the potential for city services to be extended to those properties. It will increase the city’s tax base, enlarging the pool for base revenue. And, perhaps most importantly, it will help control growth at the busiest entrance into town.

Some property owners request annexation, as they prefer the city to handle utilities and don’t mind the cost associated with extending services. Fredericksburg’s most recent annexation was 15 acres in the Stoneridge subdivision, where 33 lots may house many future residents.

Yet annexing private property can be a touchy issue, particularly with owners who might not want it.

And, there is a cost to extending services to these new properties. An estimated $1.4 million will be invested in order to extend services to this area, to be recouped over time by the larger tax base.

But the project may be part of an undertaking to examine the city’s main entrances. At a recent brainstorming meeting with consultants Design Workshop, around 100 residents tagged that entrance as the top priority, given its huge volume of traffic. Many of our estimated 1.25 million visitors into town get their first look of Fredericksburg at our U.S. 290 East gateway.

Many small towns in Texas have little thought of their public image. A property owner in one small town put a scrap metal yard just outside the city limits at its most-used thoroughfare. After many years, a fence was ordered around it, but an incalculable amount of damage for potential development had been done.

Few want to invest in a town where it looks like “Sanford & Son” is the gatekeeper. Even though unintentional, that type of “development” can harm a town’s image for decades. Given Fredericksburg’s growing exposure to national and international travelers, development along its main entrances should be carefully considered. Planned development with some regulation also are ways of protecting the investments made by other property owners, whether it was buying or building a home, or investing in a new business.

Public hearings on the annexation will be Aug. 4 and Aug. 18 in the council chambers at the Gillespie County Law Enforcement Center.

Where private properties are concerned, there may be pros and cons to annexing. But we are thankful our city leaders are looking ahead and looking out for other investors in this vibrant market.

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