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Monday, area residents came out to protest a proposed annexation of their homes and property by the City of Mission. One resident presented Mayor Norberto Salinas with a petition with almost half of the area’s 280 to 300 property owners attesting their opposition to the annexation. Most said the tax burden would be more than they could bear.

The city held the second of two public hearings Nov. 26 on the proposed annexation of 579 acres comprised of six different tracts of land on Mission’s west side, ranging in size from 10 to 233 acres.

Concepcion Ayala feared that if her property is annexed by the city, she would no longer be able to use her land without city interference.

CLICK HERE to download a PDF document of the proposed annexation.

“My Family has lived on our land for five generations. I don’t think it is fair for the city to suddenly come in and annex us against our will and then be able to tell us what we can do with our land,” declared Ayala, as she voiced her concerns over the planned annexation of her property by the city.

“I have livestock. Will I be able to keep it?” Ayala asked. It was a concern voiced by several affected residents, who keep livestock on their property in this rural area bordering Mission.

Ayala later told the Progress Times she met with Police Chief Martin Garza who said she could keep her horse but could not breed the animal or produce a colt without getting permission from the city if the area is annexed. Ayala pointed out she was not the only person who was concerned with livestock.

Margie Garcia, mother of two disabled children, raises goats in the area.

Garcia spoke at the meeting asking about shooting dogs that kill her livestock. Pit bulls owned by a neighbor’s renters would climb the fence and kill her goats. She asked the county and was told that she could shoot the dogs if they were bothering her livestock or threatening her family.

When the council acted surprised at the question and laughed, Garcia said it was not funny because the dogs were destroying her livelihood. She was told she could not shoot dogs within the city, if her property is annexed.

Jesse Sanchez told the council he and Ayala had walked the streets and secured signatures of 90 percent of tract six and 80 percent of residents in tracts four and five.

Sanchez said every neighbor except one signed his petition. Most were opposed to paying city taxes because they could not afford it. The one property owner that did not object to the annexation was a church, which pays no taxes.

Most of the area’s residents work for minimum wages or only slightly more, according to Sanchez. Some families were concerned that money being set aside for tuition for college for their children would now go for taxes. Sanchez said other families were building their homes piece by piece, a little at a time, because they could not afford more taxes. He challenged Mayor Beto Salinas who said in the last meeting if the people did not want to be annexed the process would be stopped. Sanchez asked that the annexation process be delayed a littler longer so that more signatures could be added to the petitions.

Salinas said the process must be continued on schedule by law. He said that if the council felt annexation was in the best interest of the people, it would have to vote its conscience. He also said existing land usages would be grandfathered in.

City Attorney David Guerra, in a telephone interview Wednesday, said the reason for the public hearing is so the council can hear public comment. Although the residents presented a petition opposing annexation with approximately 140 signatures, Guerra said public opposition to a proposed annexation may have a bearing on the council’s decision, but does not prohibit the council from proceeding with the annexation and does not change the voting procedure.

The city estimates there are between 280 and 300 property owners affected by the annexation.

Cindy Aguillon said she was hearing different things. In one meeting they were told the council would stop the annexation process if enough people protested. But now the council was going to vote its conscience.

Salinas countered that he was not sure the group had 51 percent of all residents on their petitions. He also suggested some people who really want annexation might have signed the petitions because they were afraid not to sign them. Later on, residents would realize annexation was in their best interest because of the services they would receive.

Milton Lopez questioned Salinas as to when the services he was promising would come. He did not expect to receive some of the services for which they would be taxed for up to five to ten years.

Salinas said there would be immediate services such as police and fire protection. There is a new police and fire substation a half a mile away so officers would respond immediately instead of the 30 minutes it currently takes for the sheriff’s office to respond. He also said the city could install streetlights very soon.

The Progress Times asked the mayor about sewer service and drainage, which he said could take two to three years.

Elda Rodriguez said her family had not received any notice of the annexation and would not know about it if they had not read the paper. She opposes annexation because they already have their own services and do not need to pay more taxes.

Following the meeting, Mayor Salinas said that once the people started receiving the services that the city would offer, they realize annexation was in their best interest.

The next step in the annexation process is institution of annexation to take place Dec. 17. A vote on adoption of the annexation ordinance is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2013.

The December City Council meeting was rescheduled from Dec. 10 to Dec. 17 and the second meeting of the city council for December was cancelled due to the holidays.

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