Townsends fight for PA disannexation
Though it lies within the city of Bridge City’s domain, the Entergy Sabine Power Plant actually has been inside the city of Port Arthur’s jurisdiction for 15 years.
All of that, however, could change through legal processes.
Attorney Alan Sanders of Orange has filed a petition on behalf of his clients, Rodney Sr. and Debbie Townsend, to disannex their property from Port Arthur. There’s also the possibility of disannexing the 3,200 acres from Port Arthur where the power plant sits upon. Their home is on 340 acres on Highway 87 at the foot of the Rainbow and Veteran Memorial Bridges.
“Disannexation is the removal of territory from a city,” Sanders said. “It’s the opposite of annexation. There are different paths to disannexation.”
He explained the acreage was previously part of Orange County before the city of Port Arthur annexed it on April 15, 1997. Though there are several owners of the acreage, only the Townsends as registered voters may file a petition.
“Port Arthur has failed and refused to provide municipal services to the Townsends. Port Arthur has only given them a tax bill. Failed means you just didn’t do it. Refuse is an active word and means you’re not going to do it.”
Sanders said his clients have tried several times to receive city services, but to no avail.
“The Townsends have made several efforts for services, including receiving a police patrol after they had a break-in. They (the Port Arthur Police Department) refused to investigate it. They have no fire protection, no animal control to pick up dead critters, no trash pick-up, and no water and sewer,” he said.
Sanders believes Port Arthur annexed the property 15 years ago because there were some legal contentions between Bridge City and Port Arthur with Port Arthur concerned Bridge City was expanding that direction.
The Townsends have lived at the location for over five years, but they didn’t know Port Arthur wouldn’t provide the city services.
“Most expect the provision of city services. It’s the city’s problem; not the Townsends,” Sanders said.
Sanders has just filed the petition with the city secretary in Port Arthur. The city has 60 days to disannex the property. If they refuse or more petitioners come forward, an action may be filed in the district court in Orange County on their behalf.
He further explained there are two courses of action his clients can take:
“One, Port Arthur responds to the request from the Townsends through the city council. They made previous requests to the city council but were refused to be put on the agenda,” Sanders said. “At this point the Townsends propose, at last, to disannex and it’s up to Port Arthur to decide to accept it.
“Two, the Townsends decide to file suit. Texas Statute requires the entire annexed area be disannexed and that’s why it would be the entire 3,200 acres.”
Sanders said this is his first case involving disannexation, though he has worked in the past with clients and governments for annexation and he has probably looked at disannexation laws in the process.
“My client’s financial motivation is for not paying city taxes every year for no city services,” Sanders said. “The Townsends have a legitimate complaint. The other property residents may have legal standing to assert a claim. Port Arthur has not acted in good faith. They have ignored the Townsends and not heard from their citizens.”