Ending Forced Annexation in Texas: General Law Annexation

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Ending Forced Annexation in Texas: Hon. Jess Fields & James Quintero, TPPF, Center for Local Governance (July, 2015)


General Law Annexation

General law cities in Texas are statutory cities. That is, their authority to act upon various issues derives entirely from state statute. In this sense, the relationship between general law cities and the state of Texas may be said to be governed by Dillon’s Rule. They may do only what the legislature or the Constitution gives them the authority to do.18 Therefore, state statute defines specifically what and how a general law city may annex.

With few exceptions, the commonality to general law annexation is that it is voluntary and initiated by property owners. The exceptions are extremely specific and generally bracketed to only include particular municipalities at particular population levels. For example, one such exception stipulates that a municipality with a population of 1,762-1,770, “part of whose boundary is part of the shoreline of a lake whose normal surface area is 75,000 acres or greater,” may practice involuntary annexation, that is, not seek the consent of landowners as most general law cities must.19

In most cases, however, general law cities may only annex if the annexation is voluntary.

Type A general law cities are allowed to annex areas where a majority of qualified voters vote in favor of annexation and the area is one-half mile or less in width. An area adjacent to a Type B general law city may vote in favor of being annexed,20 subject to a total size requirement depending upon the population of the municipality.21 Interestingly, statute does not stipulate any particular method of voting by the residents, only that the vote be acceptable to the city council and that three voters file an affidavit regarding the vote.22