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Proceed With Caution

An essay on the proposed merger between Hudson Oaks and the Annettas

Things are changing rapidly in east Parker County. Of these changes, growth is probably the most significant, as it has triggered many other changes. Growth is inevitable, and as our area continues to grow in population, special care must be taken that good decisions are made, and when various issues arise they must be handled properly and in a way that would be of most benefit to the people.

The Annetta Community was first settled in the late nineteenth century, and through the industry and perseverance of its people, it has endured to the present time. Long before the community was incorporated, it had a school, a general store, a post office, a cemetery, and three church buildings. Although in past decades the population of the community declined, it was incorporated as the three Annettas in 1979, and soon thereafter, if not before, the population of not only Annetta but also the surrounding area began experiencing rapid growth, which we are still witnessing.

The city of Hudson Oaks, to the north of the Annettas, was incorporated in the late 1970’s, and has also experienced tremendous growth in recent years. Probably due to its location along Fort Worth Highway and Interstate 20, many more businesses are located in Hudson Oaks than in the Annettas, and consequently it has much more of a “big city” atmosphere about it.

Since the time that the Annettas were incorporated, and even before, the intent of consolidating the three small towns has existed and has been considered. However, this was never done, and now we face the possibility of not only becoming one town, but also being merged with the larger Hudson Oaks to the north. Because this proposition has been brought forth, I feel the need to address it. The Annettas are very different than Hudson Oaks, and I do not believe it to be in our best interests to be joined together in this way.

Although I do not believe that a merger with Hudson Oaks would be a good path to take, consolidation itself can be beneficial, if we approach it in the right manner. It is well known that unity is better than division, and if Annetta North, Annetta, and Annetta South were to join together as one Annetta as they were before incorporation took place, it would empower the towns to better serve the citizens, and many things could be simplified and much hassle eliminated by having only one town council instead of three. However, bringing a large city such as Hudson Oaks into the deal would not be a good idea, because, as stated earlier, this city is very different than our small, rural towns. The Annettas share a common beginning and a common name, and they all have similar characteristics; such as the rural landscape, agriculture, small country roads, and few public businesses. Change is inevitable, but if we want to keep our semi-rural way of life intact, we should avoid any consolidation that would include a large city such as Hudson Oaks.

In explaining the reason for Hudson Oaks wanting to merge with the Annettas, it has been said that because Hudson Oaks is surrounded on all sides by other cities (Willow Park to the east, Annetta North to the south, and Weatherford to the northwest), and because of its need to grow, their best plan would be to merge with the Annettas. The question may well be asked, however, why does Hudson Oaks need to extend its boundaries? To be sure, the whole area is growing as more people move to Parker County, but does that make it necessary for the city of Hudson Oaks to grow in land area? Another worthy question is why does Hudson Oaks want to merge with the Annettas to the south? Why not merge with Willow Park or Weatherford? From all appearances, it seems that they want to expand merely to make their city larger, and the most convenient way to do this is to absorb the smaller towns to the south. If Hudson Oaks were to seek a merger with one of the larger cities nearby, it would likely lose its identity, and all the income that the city is now receiving from its many businesses would go to another city government. In the case of merging with the Annettas, Hudson Oaks is seeking to absorb other towns, instead of being absorbed. In the same way as would happen to Hudson Oaks if it were to join a larger city, we in the Annettas would lose our local government and the close connection the councils have with the people. There is not much to lose in the way of income, but there is still reason enough to refuse such an offer for consolidation.

Money is one thing that will highly influence the decision of whether or not to merge. As has already been mentioned, Hudson Oaks receives quite a bit of income from its many businesses, something that the Annettas have very little of. In light of the increasing costs of various things necessary for a town, such as road repairs, water, and other things, there is a possibility that an added city property tax may become necessary in the future, due to the small income of the three Annettas. This is certainly a valid point, but I think the leaders of our towns need to step back and take a look at the whole picture before they make this decision. Do they really want to take such measures to prevent a possible tax, at the risk of our towns becoming more like the city, and bringing upon us the ordinances of Hudson Oaks? Certainly, a city ad valorem tax would be undesirable, but if only the three Annettas were consolidated—without Hudson Oaks—the combined incomes would amount to more, and would certainly help towards that end. I believe that a merger with Hudson Oaks would come at too high a price, even if ad valorem taxes are avoided.

At this time, each of the Annettas enjoys a small-town government, and a local town council that is sensitive to the needs of the people and that is adequately suited to the town. Even if the three were to be consolidated into one Annetta, the resulting town government would still be such as we have now. In contrast, were we to become a part of Hudson Oaks, we would inherit that city’s laws and ordinances, which were made for a city that is very much different than the Annettas, as has already been mentioned. If we wish to retain our type of government as it is now, it would not be advisable to become a part of a larger city.

Although minor in comparison with other issues concerning this proposition, it is to be recognized that if we join Hudson Oaks, it is unlikely that we will retain the name “Annetta,” which we have had for over one and a quarter centuries. In the name of history, I see reason to reject a plan which would join Annetta and Hudson Oaks, since they have always been separate places and are still separated by county land. If such a plan eventually does come to pass, I will certainly be among those urging voters to retain the name “Annetta,” as it would be a pity to lose it, such as has happened to other small communities, such as Handley in Tarrant County. Long surrounded by Fort Worth, this small community was never incorporated, and thus was annexed into the giant Fort Worth. I do not wish to see the same fate come to Annetta, even if it is ceded willingly.

Most of all, however, I see that by either the Annettas uniting or remaining separate, there will be a better chance of our current way of life being preserved. I understand that urban growth is creeping towards us, and has already made much progress with its housing developments, but I believe that becoming part of Hudson Oaks would only hasten its coming. When the Annettas were incorporated in 1979, the reason for their incorporation was clear: Fort Worth and its five-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction were looming on the eastern horizon, and the people of the Annetta Community were concerned about the possibility of someday being annexed by Fort Worth. Clearly this would spell the end of things as they were “out in the country,” especially seeing Fort Worth’s many ordinances and restrictions. In 1979 we didn’t want this to happen, and I hope enough people today still feel as strongly about it. Twenty-eight years ago, we were motivated to incorporate three towns in order to avoid being annexed by the City. Today, we are on the verge of being virtually annexed by another city, and although this city is not as large as the previous one, it is still a cause of concern.

Merger talks have occurred before, but nothing ever came of them. This one, however, promises to be different. Are we going to agree to hand our towns over to big city government, or will we hang onto the reigns and decide our future for ourselves? There will be growth, there will be development, and we’ve got to put our best foot forward in the decisions we make, as they will certainly have a profound effect on the future. Hudson Oaks has enough growth as it is, and there is no need to help them expand. Edgecliff Village in Tarrant County is a thriving community, and its city limits touch Fort Worth’s on every side. We, the people of the Annettas, have the capability of governing ourselves and taking care of local business, with true concern and knowledge for the needs of the people. Whether the Annettas become one or remain separate, there is no need to put ourselves in the hands of Hudson Oaks and let them decide things for us. As Annetta, not “Annetta Oaks,” we can prepare for future growth and population increase.