It seems one area in particular could benefit from following a fellow county member’s lead.
In 2011, Missouri City conducted a periodic review of the potential Sienna Plantation annexation. Alan Mueller, a former acting city manager operating as a consultant, concluded at the time that the process would not be viable until at least 2027.
“You wouldn’t break even anytime soon,” Mueller said in 2011, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Sugar Land has since expanded, annexing Greatwood and New Territory in 2017. That added about 30,000 new residents and significantly raised the profile of an already noteworthy slice of the Houston area and Fort Bend County.
In speaking with community members, they believe new mayor Yolanda Ford has been more aggressive than previous mayor Allen Owen in terms of pushing for the annexation of Sienna Plantation.
So that begs the question: Could it become feasible sooner than initially believed?
The answer is unclear. City Manager Anthony Snipes deferred to Ford, saying the city council has not discussed or taken any action regarding Sienna Plantation. However, it appears there could possibly be a renewed study to review the possibility later this year.
“The city’s number one strategic focus has been economic development and redevelopment in key areas,” Snipes wrote in an email Sunday afternoon. “Lastly, the city is in the last stages of a year-long strategic Municipal Utility District study, which should be completed in August. At that time, the city council will be able to review information that covers operational, legal, and financial recommendations regarding MUDs.”
Ford, a former city council member, knows about the findings of the 2011 review. She also echoed Snipes in an email Monday afternoon, saying she has not been briefed or updated on the process of annexing Sienna Plantation since becoming mayor.
However, she’s a strong proponent of doing so when it becomes feasible.
“After meeting with various citizens, stakeholders and organizations, I have been advised that this is a desire of my residents,” she wrote. “As mayor, I am their voice, so I would wholeheartedly support moving this forward and encouraging my colleagues to support it once there were resources.”
In a report to Missouri City’s city council in April 2011, the Chronicle said Mueller examined the costs of dissolving the two Sienna municipal utility districts (MUDs), assuming the debt and providing city services like police and street maintenance, and balanced that against the additional property and sales tax revenue the city would get by adding nearly 2,300 additional acres of Sienna Plantation to Missouri City.
Missouri City entered into the Sienna Agreement with Sienna Plantation property owners in 1996. As part of the agreement, Missouri City has the right to annex land within Sienna Plantation, which is within its Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). There have been nine amendments to the agreement since it was first signed.
An ETJ is the unincorporated area located within three-and-a-half miles of the boundaries of a city with a population between 50,000-99,000.
Sienna Plantation, Sienna Point and portions of Riverstone are examples of neighborhoods in Missouri City’s ETJ. Sienna Plantation sits in the Missouri City ETJ just south of Highway 6.
Per the city’s agreement, the city would annex the area after it is about 90 percent developed and when the city is willing to assume the area’s outstanding development debt and in the event of a bona fide effort to incorporate a municipality that includes any portion of Sienna.
Any area annexed by Missouri City will pay city taxes, will no longer pay MUD taxes and will begin receiving city services.
Sienna Plantation currently has a fire protection agreement with Missouri City, wherein the city’s Fire & Rescue Services department provides services at the same level as those received by Missouri City residents, for which costs are then reimbursed by Sienna MUD No. 1.
The major factor in his assessment, Mueller said, was that annexation of Sienna Plantation in the climate at the time would have increased the city’s outstanding development debt. However, he also provided one alternative scenario that might allow for faster annexation – converting the MUDs into “limited districts” that could continue to impose taxes on Sienna residents to pay for existing debt, which totaled nearly $75 million at the time of the report – and subsidizing the city’s increased service costs.
Prior to publication, Ford did not respond to a follow-up email asking whether that option has been explored prior to or during her time as mayor.
Former councilman Brett Kolaja, who represented the Sienna Plantation area, told the Chronicle in 2011 that city officials had been hearing from residents who wanted city police service beginning immediately.
And it stands to reason that those calls are still coming.
Now, because there might be factors at play that I have not considered, I would love to hear from residents about the subject. After all, the best and most thorough way to tell any story is through the eyes of those impacted.
So by all means, let me know if there’s something I’m missing here.
But Missouri City is called the “Show Me City” – and what better way to raise the profile and show it off than adding population and businesses? That strategy appears to be working for Sugar Land.
It seems as though it would be in the best interests of Missouri City and Sienna Plantation property owners for annexation to occur sooner than 2027, should it become feasible, and that every effort should be made to responsibly streamline the process.