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Release of Land from an Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (“ETJ”)

The Texas Legislature recently enacted a law that provides landowners with a means to remove their property from a City’s ETJ. Removal will provide a landowner with an exemption from the City ordinances applicable in the ETJ and protection against future annexation of their property.

Property owners in an ETJ may request that their property be released from that ETJ either through a petition or election, pursuant to the Texas Local Government Code.

Various requirements must be met to be released from an ETJ:

  • Drafting and sending to the municipality a petition for release or requesting an election for release;
  • Having the petition or election approved by authorized parties or registered voters residing in the area, respectively;
  • Complying with certain time constraints;
  • Providing proper Tax Roll Indications; and
  • Producing supporting maps, as needed.

If the landowner chooses to file a petition, upon doing so in compliance with the Texas Local Government Code, the municipality must release the property from the ETJ. If the municipality fails to do so within a certain time period, the property is released by operation of law.

If a landowner chooses to be released by election, that election would take place upon requesting the municipality to hold an election concerning the release of the property.  Additionally, there are limitations to re-requesting an election for release should the original election requesting release not succeed. Upon the results of the election, the municipality must take action to immediately release the property from the ETJ. If this is not done within the time frame provided by the Texas Local Government Code, then the property must be released as a matter of law.

In the alternative, a municipality has the authority to release the property from the ETJ voluntarily and choose not to hold an election.

However, it is important to note that a coalition of cities, led by the City of Grand Prairie, has sued the State of Texas, alleging that the Texas Government Code provisions allowing for the release from a municipality’s ETJ are unconstitutional.

With complex issues such as the release of an area of land from an ETJ, especially with the pending litigation throughout the State of Texas, it is important to seek experienced and knowledgeable attorneys. Here at Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, LLP, we have attorneys capable and qualified to handle these types of cases with a proven track record of successfully releasing land from the ETJs of different municipalities.

The author of this article is Ryan J. Bennett. Mr. Bennett is a Texas Attorney licensed to practice in all Texas State Courts as well as the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas. He focuses on civil matters, including business and real estate litigation and transactional work, as well as assisting landowners in the release of their land from different municipalities’ Extra-Territorial Jurisdictions.

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