Bryan City Council supports annexations

The Bryan City Council supports a city-initiated annexation for the RELLIS campus and a U-shaped area around it, totaling about 6,000 acres.

Annexing land around the Texas A&M University System's RELLIS Campus as well as Texas Triangle Park was a unanimous desire expressed Tuesday by the Bryan City Council. 

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In September, consultants told the council that annexation of the area around the 2,000-acre campus near the intersection of Texas 47 and 21 isn't recommended in the near term because of costs associated with basic city services that would need to be provided immediately. But during a Tuesday workshop discussion, city staff indicated that taxable activity coming to RELLIS in the near future would make annexation a strategic move, among other reasons.

The council's feedback was to pursue a city-initiated annexation for the RELLIS campus and a U-shaped area around it, totaling about 6,000 acres, as well as about 1,500 acres in the Texas Triangle Park area. That would include Axis Pipe & Tube and the Bryan Independent School District's Career and Technical Education complex. Resolutions could be brought back to the council for consideration in January, and if it chooses to move forward, the annexation process would take about six to eight months to complete.

Motivations for pursuing annexation include providing municipal services in a soon-to-be urbanized area, facilitating growth and enhancing the tax base. The Texas Legislature could also change requirements for annexation during its upcoming session, potentially making the process more difficult for cities. 

The annexation area being considered near RELLIS focuses on protecting commercial corridors and gateways into Bryan. Consultants had advised against annexation there in the near term because of the financial burden associated with the likely need to build and staff a new fire station to service the area, coupled with the fact that no property tax revenue is currently being generated at the campus. But Deputy City Manager Joey Dunn said there's potential for taxable activity in the future. Dunn didn't share details but said RELLIS could include "significant" taxable development soon. 

The city would need to offer non-annexation agreements for property owners whose land is appraised for ad valorem tax purposes. That would be a first step in the annexation process, along with notification of all property owners within the proposed areas. An annexation service plan would also need to be prepared, and at least two public hearings would be held. 

According to numbers presented Tuesday, the process could cost up to about $420,000. The bulk of that would be for reimbursing emergency services districts whose territory the city would take over upon annexation, which would cost about $378,000 at an estimated $50 per acre. 

The estimates don't include costs to provide fire services in the annexed area.

Tuesday's discussion didn't end in official action, but all council members indicated support in moving forward. An official vote would take place on separate resolutions for the RELLIS area and Texas Triangle Park annexations next year.

Also at Tuesday's meeting: 

• Councilman Greg Owens was appointed mayor pro tem.

• The council approved "shared active transportation system" rules, which will allow the city manager to approve short-term license agreements for pilot programs and lay a framework for regulating dockless bikes, scooters and other "small-wheeled vehicles" in Bryan. Councilman Mike Southerland requested further discussion on details including where vehicles can be ridden, parked and other permit requirements.

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