Princeton (Texas) Mayor Brianna Chacon has said that her belief in the city’s “changing demographics” will help the city forge a new governing path when it presents a home-rule charter to voters later this year.
I hope she is correct. A citizens’ panel formed to craft a home-rule document might be fighting the specter of past failures as it cobbles the draft charter together over the coming weeks.
The specter lies in the belief among some foes of home rule that the city can annex property at will. Wrong! It cannot do anything of the sort without the expressed approval of the property owners of the property being considered for annexation.
The 2017 Texas Legislature took the annexation matter off the table when it enacted a law requiring property owners’ permission. Thus, the issue that doomed previous efforts to approve a home-rule charter in Princeton has been shoved aside. Previous efforts (and there have been four of them) to oppose home rule rested on the objections of residents living in the “extraterritorial jurisdiction” just outside the city limits. They won the argument and the measure failed in previous elections.
The political action committee that will take shape when the document is approved and sent to the ballot will need to ensure that annexation is a non-starter.
Princeton currently is governed as a “general law” city, requiring it to follow rules set by state statute. Home rule gives cities greater latitude and freedom to make decisions affecting their communities. Make no mistake that the city’s “demographics” are changing dramatically, as it is one of Texas’s fast-growing cities. Its population virtually tripled from 2010 to 2020; Princeton is now home to more than 17,000 residents … and that number is being eclipsed almost daily as more residents set up homes.
Yes, I happen to favor home rule for Princeton and my hope is that voters approve it when they get the chance to vote on the matter. I also am hoping the PAC that will emerge to campaign for its approval makes the case in the clearest language possible that the city cannot annex property at will.
Pay attention … are we clear?