The Wharton City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing City Manager Andres Garza to enter into discussions on a “possible” Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) with Hungerford Municipal Utility District 1 (MUD), which is located in the city’s Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ).
The decision during a Monday, Dec. 9 regular meeting comes weeks after it was determined that Love’s Travel Stops was indeed part of Hungerford’s MUD, a claim that its officials told Wharton leaders was not the city’s during a public hearing on annexation on Nov. 4. It was attended by Fred Ivy, who is the Hungerford MUD 1 president, and Jerome Zahradnik, who is MUD 1’s secretary and performs maintenance duties.
At the end of the November meeting, both parties said they would need to meet with each other’s attorneys to discuss how everything is actually annexed in that area.
However, in their meeting packet Monday, each council member had information the staff rehashed about the annexation process. It read the council had begun with annexation proceedings on a 34.52-acre tract north of the city that borders FM 1161.
Garza said the city does not plan to annex the Love’s property.
Councilman Don Mueller harked back to legislation that doesn’t allow a municipality to annex land unless the citizens ask for it. This would include Hungerford, which is not incorporated. The MUD not only provides water and sewer water services to Love’s, but also the Hungerford area. Public hearings from the past few weeks made the city’s intent very clear. It did not have plans to annex all of Hungerford, but rather a part of it that is along US 59.
The city, however, is prepared to have a full municipal Service Plan for the territory it annexed in accordance with state law. It includes fire, police, animal control, street, storm water management, water service, sanitary sewer service, among other things.
The MUD will continue to tax Love’s for its use of water and most of Hungerford.
“It (still) puts the city right there at the edge,” said Garza, who believes that future development is forthcoming along US 59. He told council that like any municipality, MUDs are also expected to abide by the laws of the state, most of them enforced by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Garza said apart from the agreement, annexation is an issue that the city could revisit with Love’s in the future.