Neighboring cities take different paths toward same goal

Princeton and Farmersville happen to be two rapidly growing cities in Collin County, Texas.

Officials in both cities want the same thing at the moment. They want voters to approve measures to create home-rule charters in cities that are currently governed  under “general law” established by the Texas Legislature.

Both cities, though, are taking different paths toward the same goal.

Let’s look first at Princeton, where my and I live with our pooch, Toby the Puppy.

Princeton is going to conduct an election in November to establish a citizens committee that will draft a home-rule charter. The city will ask voters for permission to proceed. If voters say “yes,” the city will seat the committee and ask it to deliver a draft charter. The city isn’t waiting, however, for election results. They had a meeting this past week at City Hall to solicit members to join the committee.

If voters reject the committee idea, the plan stops. It’s dead. Gone. There will be no charter election next May.

Princeton’s growth has been staggering. Its 2010 census figure of 6,807 residents grew to more than 17,000 in 2020. State law says cities need a minimum of 5,000 inhabitants to call for an election. Princeton has had four tries already at approving a home-rule charter, but each one has failed.

Farmersville — about seven miles down the highway — has fewer people living there than Princeton. Its population stands at around 5,100. Farmersville already has a draft charter that was cobbled together by a committee. It is ready for public review.

Farmersville will not have an election asking permission from residents to form a committee. It has called for a May 2022 election to decide whether to proceed with a home-rule charter.

Both elections very well could signal the extent to which both cities have changed in recent years as new residents have flocked to their communities. Farmersville has built a remarkable community character already. It has a charming downtown square that is home to lively celebrations annually; most recently, Old Time Saturday revived itself there after being shelved for a year by the COVID pandemic.

Princeton’s community character is still a work in progress. It has no downtown district worth mentioning. However, the city is building a marvelous new municipal government complex just east of Princeton High School on U.S. 380 that city leaders hope will blossom into a thriving center for community activity built around green space and commercial development planned nearby.

Here is to the future of both communities. May the voters in two thriving Collin County cities make the correct decisions on where the want their cities to go.