Thursday, December 14, 2006

Annexation War Over

According to the Port Isabel Press the battle over annexing large tracts of land on South Padre Island is over. Port Isabel wrote checks payable in the amount of about $186,000 each to SPI and the Pinnel Trust, which owns a bunch of land on the north side of town. In addition, Port Isabel council took action to change their maps.

For those not up on the history, Port Isabel is on the mainland and was very interested in extending its boundaries to the lucrative South Padre market, which is booming and could generate some serious tax income for their town. In a series of ordinances, it advanced its claim to the land across the bay, a mile at a time until it encompassed a good part of the land north and south of SPI. The Island and Pinnel protested because (1) over-water annexation was unconstitutional and (2) because Pinnel wanted to be annexed by SPI, not Port Isabel (consistent with ETJ practices for extra-territorial jurisdiction in the Texas Constitution). Port Isabel lost in the first case and then lost on an appeal.

At first, SPI town leaders seemed to be willing to forgive their share of the winnings, which were all court filing and lawyer costs, since the accent should be on regional cooperation and planning rather than fighting all the time. Such a special agreement would forgive the payment as long as Port Isabel never again attempted such an annexing scheme. However, popular sentiment was against this notion and the demand for payment remained as part of the court settlement, by default.

While regional cooperation is a laudible ideal, Port Isabel did something patently unconstitutional, at least according to a trial judge and an appellate judge. I recall the shock and dismay of seeing the signs saying "Port Isabel City Limits" on our Island. It was no small wonder the local kids used to whack those signs as much as they could. At least all that is history now and we can move forward. Watch for no small amount of sparks over a second, proposed Port Isabel to SPI causeway - it should have some good viewing potential. /Sam


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it should be made clear that the BOA was willing to waive the payment several months ago if Port Isabel did not appeal the court ruling and if they dropped their opposition to the legislation pending in Austin that would make similar annexation attempts illegal.
That did not happen, Port Isabel appealed, in effect trying one more time to take Island property and when the appeal failed and again the courts said they should pay our legal fees the BOA was unanimous in their decision NOT to waive or negotiate any settlement.
The BOA simply wanted the money paid back.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I appreciate the straight skinny, the truth. Timing was crucial and I do tend to lump everything together. Your note was appreciated very much and if a change is really needed in this here blog please let me know - I have always supported the BOA on this matter. In fact, I can't thank the Town enough for standing up for our constitutional rights!

The only thing that worries me about this whole deal, and please let me know if y'all care to, is why Port Isabel decided it wanted to "get" South Padre Island.

Have any clues there?

7:18 PM  

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