by A.C. Hall
After an off and on negotiation that lasted over nine years, the City of Benbrook and the City of Fort Worth have come to an agreement that will see over two thousand acres of land swapped between the cities. Benbrook will receive over 1,450 acres into their Extra Territorial Jurisdiction and 100 acres into the actual Benbrook city limits. Fort Worth will receive over 740 acres into their ETJ and about 40 acres into their city limits.
Deputy City Manager Dave Gattis is one of only two people in the Benbrook government that was a part of these negotiations when they began in 2005, and he stated that the land swap will provide Benbrook with a chance to grow.
The biggest gain for Benbrook is 992 acres south of the current city limits that has been transferred into their ETJ. There is a State mandated process that must be followed to annex land in an ETJ and officially add it into a city’s limits. Gattis said that the city is going to start work on that process to bring the 992 acres into Benbrook city limits.
As part of the deal, Benbrook also received 437 acres into their ETJ that borders the west bank of Benbrook Lake. This land is not currently slated to be annexed into the city limits.
“Benbrook has no plans to annex this area unless it’s on a voluntary basis,” Gattis said.
The land is currently unincor-porated and while those living there pay no city taxes, they also receive no city services. This is the same situation those in the area have had while they were a part of the Fort Worth ETJ.
“In effect, resi-dents down there would see no change by the transfer,” Gattis said.
As their part of the deal, Benbrook’s main contribution is giving up 748 acres in the Pecan Valley Park area including the portion of the Pecan Valley golf course that falls within Benbrook. This 748 acres, that sits on the north border of Benbrook Lake, will become part of the Fort Worth ETJ and Gattis stated that it will eventually be annexed into Fort Worth’s city limits.
Benbrook will also dedicate a sewer line easement through Whitestone Golf Course so Fort Worth can get those services to their citizens in that area. Gattis said this was talked about when the golf course was being built, but Fort Worth didn’t realize how much they’d need the sewer line at that time.
“We’ve promised to work with them to get that sewer easement with as little impact on the golf course operations as possible,” Gattis said.
The Benbrook Water Authority was also involved in the deal, agreeing to provide interim water and sewer service to portions of Fort Worth west of 377. Before voting on the land swap deal at their September council meeting, the issue was opened up for questions. Council member Ron Sauma asked if there should be any concerns over costs that could arise from this deal.
“As we annex areas we have an obligation under state law to provide additional services but that will be offset by the taxes that would come from that property,” Gattis told him.
Sauma was informed that lands being added to the Benbrook ETJ would have no financial impact since no city services are provided to those areas.
Mayor Jerry Dittrich, who was on the Benbrook City Council in 2005 when these negotiations began, said the council wasn’t required to open this up to public comments but that he’d like to hear from the public anyways. Two different individuals spoke, both seeking clarifications on what changes, if any, would come to the unincorporated areas that Benbrook was taking over.
Following the discussions, Benbrook city council voted unanimously to approve the land swap deal. The deal has since been approved by the Fort Worth City Council as well.