Letters are being mailed officially notifying property owners who live in areas the city of Stephenville is eyeing for annexation.

Five different areas, totaling about 500 acres, are in the pipeline to be annexed.

The letters, which will be sent out over the next week, will inform the affected property owners of the city’s intention to annex and include a “service plan” spelling out the time frame for city services to be provided, City Administrator Mark Kaiser said.

In addition, the letters will inform the property owners of the scheduled annexation public hearing dates of Feb. 20 and March 6, Kaiser said.

The Stephenville City Council is scheduled to consider the “ordinance to annex” the affected property on March 20.

All three meetings are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at Stephenville City Hall.

Areas slated for 2006-07 year annexation include:

A-1 (116 acres) - In the vicinity of Forest Lane and Pecan Hill Drive. Streets in that area include Thornhill, Highland View and Summit. A-2 (78.7 acres) - Off of W. Lingleville Road and Hillcrest Drive. Streets in that area include Betty, Idella, Wiley and Tab. A-3 (37.7 acres) - Off of E. FM Road 8 and N. U.S. 281, east of College Farm Road. A-4 (36.5 acres) - Off of S. State Highway 108 and Glen Rose Road and touching parts of E. Ballow Street and Old Hico Road. A-5 (240.8 acres) - South of W. South Loop and touching S. Lillian and FM 914.

If the city annexes the property, it must provide public safety to the affected area within 30 days and utilities within four years.

“We’ve had phone calls both ways,” Kaiser said, referring to people supporting and opposing the city’s plan to annex.

Kaiser encouraged residents who believe they may be in impacted areas to come to City Hall to view maps and said that he and Betty Chew, director of community development, will be more than happy to discuss the plans with interested residents.

In addition, Kaiser said the city is working to try to provide the information on the Internet as well.

“I know people have questions,” Kaiser said. “We want to answer them.”

Not included, although the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended that it be included in this batch of annexations, are 200-plus acres in Heritage Hills subdivision.

Because of cost, Kaiser said, “We’re not ready to tackle it at this time.”

Property owners who are annexed into the city will have to pay for city services. Currently, homes in Stephenville have an average cost of $78,642. For such a home, property owners would pay $365.68 per year in city taxes for police, fire, EMS, street, parks and other city services.

However, according to a city document, annexation is a must.

“Stephenville’s diversification and growth had led to the need for annexation,” the document states. “All economic indicators and population growth projections reflect continued demands on our community.

“We estimated approximately 80 percent of our residential development is built out, 75 percent of our industrial, and 70 percent of our commercial property is developed. Increasing demands on both sectors of our community create the need to consider annexation.”

The document continues, “Cities annex territory to provide urbanizing areas with municipal services and to exercise regulatory authority necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare.”

“Annexation is also a means of ensuring that residents and businesses outside a city’s corporate limits who benefit from access to the city’s facilities and services share the tax burden associated with constructing and maintaining those facilities and services.

“Annexation may also be used as a tool to manage growth.”

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.