Annexation could put city as nation's 5th largest

City Council considering 66 miles of expansion

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio city leaders are considering a 66-square-mile expansion that could add more than 200,000 people to its population over the next six years.

The City Council could decide in December whether to absorb five areas in Bexar County adjacent to the city. The move could boost the city's population to more than 1.7 million by 2020, which would make San Antonio the fifth largest city in the nation.

The city's director of planning and community development, John Dugan, debriefed the council about the expansion possibilities at a Wednesday meeting. City policy requires officials to consider annexations that promote economic growth, protect the environment and otherwise benefit its residents.

The plan would require multiple council votes over the next two years to move forward.

Some residents against annexation

Alamo Ranch homeowner Melissa Cerillo is among many residents who live in a neighborhood just outside the city limits that could be facing annexation.

"We are opposed to it," she said. "We are actually considering moving out of the area just to be on the outskirts of annexation."

The areas under consideration are located east, west, north, and northwest of San Antonio -- all highly populated, fast-growing regions of Bexar County.

"We want to be sure that the building that takes place is within the city standards for land-use and the regulation for the quality of new construction," Dugan said.

Also being considered are flood plains and the environmentally sensitive Edward's Aquifer.

"Those types of things can be managed better by the city than the county," Dugan said.

He also said money is a driving factor, with studies estimating additional tax income to be about $70 million annually by the year 2020.

"There would be more revenue if we annex the growth areas that would be used in the inner city areas to support catch-up and capacity issues and services," Dugan said.

If a limited-purpose annexation is approved, residents in the extra-territorial jurisdiction would not pay city taxes or get city services such as fire, police or trash pick-up for a three-year period.

If and when a final approval comes, Dugan estimates those homeowners's taxes will go up 20-25 percent.

"I'm in favor of movement ahead and it is property taxes for the schools," said homeowner Don Phillips.

Despite his attitude toward progress, he said he does have his reservations, having been through annexation before in another neighborhood.

"Frankly, you can't do much about it. If they're going to do it, they're going to do it," Phillips said.

The city can only annex up to 10 percent of its land in any given year, which means the council will not be at liberty to approve all five areas this time around.