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Annexation bill concerns Joint Base SA commander

Letter sent to House Speaker Joe Straus regarding HB 2221

SAN ANTONIOThe letter to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus was short and to the point.

Brig. Gen. Robert LaBrutta, commander of Joint Base San Antonio, expressed his concerns about House Bill 2221 which would change the annexation procedures used by cities like San Antonio.

"Compatible land use is absolutely critical to ensuring mission execution at our installations," LaBrutta wrote.

He said changing the statutes that also govern extraterritorial jurisdictions, HB 2221 will make "it more difficult to ensure compatible land use essential to the missions at JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Camp Bullis."

For example, a few years Camp Bullis on the far Northwest side was threatened by light pollution from some of the city's most populated areas. 

LaBrutta said in his letter that existing state laws are in line with Joint Land Use studies "to preserve our mission."

His message could be construed by some as an implied warning the proposed bill could jeopardize JBSA Camp Bullis and Lackland.

He concluded by pointing out, "Changes to the municipal annexation act can affect numerous military mission across JBSA."

In response, the Texas House speaker issued a statement that he takes the commander's concerns very seriously.

Straus said, "The San Antonio delegation will work to address those concerns if this bill keeps moving through the legislative process over the next three weeks."

A vote is expected on the bill Thursday.

Al Arreola Jr., president and CEO of the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, said, "We still have assets like Lackland and Camp Bullis that we still need to try our best to protect."

He said it appears that lawmakers are trying to regulate development.

Arreola said, "The legislators have kind of overextended their mandate and are now behaving like the City Council of Texas."