11/15/18 3:00pm

Since 1995, a new kind of land designation has been cropping up all along Houston’s outskirts: the LPA, or limited-purpose annexation. It’s a way for the city to collect sales tax in small, usually commercial, portions of unincorporated areas without formally annexing them or providing them with city services. Often LPAs are established inside an existing MUD (as shown above in yellow), although they doesn’t have to be (as shown by the blue). “The pursuit of these agreements is often framed by the city as a commuter tax,” according to a recent report from Rice’s Kinder Institute, “aimed at collecting revenue from residents who live outside of Houston but who use the services provided by the city.”

But there’s another reason why more than 200 LPAs now encircle the city, mainly between Hwy. 6 and the Grand Pkwy. Last year, the Texas legislature passed a bill that limits cities’ annexation power by allowing the communities they want to annex to hold their own referenda before their extra-territorial turf can be snatched up. One exception: A referendum isn’t necessary if the city and the area to be annexed have a preexisting agreement that says so. Many of Houston’s LPAs include this carve-out, meaning that when they expire — the typical term is 30 years — the areas they regulate will be up for grabs by the city . . . no local vote needed.


Limited Purpose Annexations
07/17/08 1:40pm


Almost 1,000 petitioners want to create a new city called Spring-Klein: “‘I called the state and they said there was no city of Spring, and that Spring was in the city of Houston’s extraterritorial jurisdiction,’ [Najjia’s Fine Furniture owner Earl] Hodge said. ‘There has to be at least 400,000 people out here, and that has to be equal to the size of the fifth or sixth-largest city in Texas.’ Hodge said he created the petition to test the waters and has found that many are supportive of an effort that would prevent another city, such as Houston, Conroe or a possible future city of The Woodlands, from swallowing up the Spring Klein community.” [Houston Chronicle, via HAIF]

06/30/08 11:37am

Parking Lot for Proposed Second Baptist Church of Baytown on North Main St., Baytown, TX

Baytown’s City Council has voted to annex 320 acres of land along North Main and south of I-10 — so that Baytown’s Second Baptist Church can get utility and other municipal services for a new 48,000-sq.-ft., $8.7 million shopping-center-style facility it is hoping to construct on North Main St.

The Baytown Sun‘s Barrett Goldsmith reports that even more land may be annexed:

According to information submitted to Council by city planner Kimberly Brooks, additional property along North Main will be brought to Council for annexation as the utility system is extended to the area.

After the jump: More images of the new church . . . plus a video!


04/24/07 10:56am

Portofino Shopping Center in ShenandoahLast year’s agreement between Mayor White and State Senator Tommy Williams was meant to save The Woodlands from the evil menace of annexation by Houston. Here’s how: Houston would allow The Woodlands to escape from its extraterritorial jurisdiction if The Woodlands would start using its taxes to pay for regional projects.

But did the agreement say anything about The Woodlands annexing its neighbors? While Williams has been shepherding bills through the legislature to finalize the agreement, he’s also sponsoring legislation that would allow the Town Center Improvement District, a special tax district meant to support the Woodlands Town Center, to expand so that it covers almost all of the Woodlands. And then there’s that special feature of improvement districts:

Unlike a city, which has limits put on its annexation capabilities, the existing TCID law allows the district to overlay other city boundaries or extraterritorial jurisdictions, which are designated areas for future growth. In addition, while cities may only annex contiguous property, TCID is permitted to annex property that is not located next to its boundaries.

These issues became a major concern for surrounding cities as legislation was introduced that would allow Town Center to expand to provide municipal service to The Woodlands. [emphasis added]

Brilliant! All those regional projects Houston is demanding could be paid for by other folks! Except that neighboring Shenandoah, home to the Venice-In-A-Parking-Lot Portofino Shopping Center (above), would have none of it. Shenandoah has worked out an agreement that would prevent Town Center from annexing any part of it—including any expanded boundaries or nearby planned developments.

In addition to the city limits, which includes 126 homes in the Grogan’s Forest neighborhood of The Woodlands and areas of extraterritorial jurisdiction, TCID could not annex new developments that are partially located within Shenandoah’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. These include Northline Oaks, Tamina, Lakeland and a new development on Forest Park Drive. This means those areas also could not become part of any future city of The Woodlands, VanSteenberg said.

See? Once The Woodlands decides to set up its own government, it might come up with a new set of boundaries. And who knows where they’ll be?

Next in line for a land grab: Conroe. And then, why not . . . Huntsville?

The TCID Executive Committee approved $10,000 for a study by Sarmistha Majundar of Sam Houston State University’s Political Science Department to survey students, faculty and residents in the Huntsville area about the need for public transportation to The Woodlands Town Center.

Photo: Hermes Architects