Burleson offers delayed annexation, mulls Chisholm Trail development

A. Lee Graham lgraham@bizpress.net Owners of property skirting the Burleson city limits face more than one deadline as city officials prepare for development along the new Chisholm Trail Parkway. Not only must about 300 property owners decide whether to sign agreements protecting their property from being annexed into the city for 10 years, but they also know that Burleson itself looks to another clock. “It could be a whole other Burleson in development on the west side of town,” said Bradley Ford, the city’s director of development services. That’s because the Chisholm Trail Parkway, the 27.6-mile, $1.1 billion toll road between Interstate 30 near downtown Fort Worth and U.S. 67 in Cleburne, stands to reshape about 38,000 acres of Burleson’s extraterritorial jurisdiction currently zoned for agricultural use.

Farms and ranches occupy most of that sparsely populated area, but residential neighborhoods and mixed-use developments with both retail and residential components could transform the area. “When we talk about the tollway, the area that encompasses is as large as the entire town is currently,” Ford said. By signing what the city calls a “delayed annexation” agreement, property owners can opt to delay paying Burleson property taxes for 10 years. More than 300 property owners fall under that designation and own property in eight areas totaling more than 7,500 acres. The city has identified those property owners for “potential annexation.” The tracts are mainly located near or along Chisholm Trail Parkway, the future Alsbury Boulevard extension to Texas 121 and Interstate 35W south of Bethesda Road. As long as property owners in those areas continue using the land for agriculture purposes, they are protected from annexation. Adding accessory buildings for farming, ranching and wildlife management is allowed and does not jeopardize annexation protection, city officials said.

State law allows municipalities to make development agreements with landowners that guarantee continuation of extraterritorial status. Residents have until Sept. 15 to sign the agreement or be subject to annexation. Widespread interest among developers is prompting Burleson to plan its annexation. “We’re getting a lot of calls for urban development in that area,” said Ford, citing several pending land sales in the area. He declined to divulge specific details. Ford said the city wants to ensure what it considers proper development on land surrounding the new toll road. “Ultimately, we want to see appropriate development in that area,” said Ford, citing single-family neighborhoods, retail and other commercial properties as likely additions. The city has not done studies to determine how much tax revenue such development could bring the city, but officials know that assessing property taxes on property owners in outlying areas could provide a vital funding mechanism as the city expands. “We are studying the costs of strategic infrastructure placement, the cost of what placing water and sewer services would be,” Ford said. More information is available atwww.burlesontx.com/developmentagreement.