From Ending Forced Annexation in Texas: Hon. Jess Fields & James Quintero, TPPF, Center for Local Governance (July, 2015)
A Proposal for Voluntary Annexation
Voluntary annexation should not be subject to unnecessary delays. The principle at hand in voluntary annexation is simple: a property owner consents to be annexed by seeking annexation. As a result, the process should take no longer than the amount of time necessary to obtain full agreement between the property owner and the municipality.
In order to allow cities and property owners to more readily come to an understanding regarding the services provided after an annexation occurs, property owners seeking voluntary annexation should be able to negotiate with a city and draw up a service agreement that outlines the specific responsibilities of the city and property owners.
For example, a property owner seeking annexation may only care about obtaining police and fire coverage, but does not need other improvements, such as sewer service. He may wish to place this stipulation in an agreement with a city; therefore, it is to the city’s advantage to have the property owner able to consent to a lower level of services than might be required by the current service inventory in statute.
Similarly, the property owner may wish to obtain a certain kind of zoning designation after he is annexed, and allow the city to forego certain services in the interest of obtaining that designation. In either case, it is the agreement which would stipulate the terms—and the agreement must be signed off on by both the property owner and the municipality.
Once a property owner (or owners) agrees to the terms of annexation, the city should be able to annex quickly. A reasonable solution would be for the city to hold a public hearing and then, no sooner than 10 business days later, post for final passage of the annexation. This would speed up voluntary annexation to a process that could take as little as a few weeks, which would clearly benefit both municipalities and property owners.