By JERRY DEAL
The west-side de-annexation dispute has fired up again, as a small group of residents representing those seeking de-annexation of that Harlingen land presented petitions stating just that Monday afternoon to City Secretary Sylvia Trevino at City Hall.
Included in the group was Chuck Lee, the group’s organizer, businessman and retired banker Dial Dunkin, annexation attorney Jason Mann and minister George Merrill, just defeated in a bid for mayor.
More than 700 peitions involving property owners and voters in the area, annexed by the city on Nov. 19, 2008, were given to Trevino.
Lee said it represented a majority of residents within the two tracts that were annexed. He has previously cited discrepancies about the way the land was annexed.
They allege, among other things, that, according to state law the service plan committee involved in the annexation should have been appointed by the County Commission, at the request of the city, to create a service plan before the annexation.
He said the area residents were denied the right to negotiate a service plan and were denied the right to arbitrate the service plan.
However, Interim City Manager Gabe Gonzalez has said the city-appointed committee was sufficient to determine the residents; needs.
The presentation of the petitions is another step in the dispute with the city following the annexation. The two tracts of about 1,060 acres are bordered by Stuart Place, Altas Palmas, Garrett and Wilson roads.
Lee and Dunkin also have claimed response time by police is poor and sometimes non-existent, a claim also disputed by Gonzalez.
The Local Government Code states that if the city fails or refuses to de-annex the area within 60 days after it receives the petitions, providing there are enough signers, they can take the matter to court.
Lee also accuses former City Manager Craig Lonon of withholding fire and police departments information causing the City Commission to approve the annexation of the tracts.
Lee said that informational memos stated that personnel at each department was inadequate to serve the newly annexed areas.
The police memo was dated August 2005 and the fire department memo was dated March 2006.
Lee charged the city did not act in good faith, since annexation began in 2005.