MIDLOTHIAN — A little over one month has passed since the Midlothian City Council approved a resolution to annex 118 acres of county land into the city limits.

And residents are speaking up from both sides of the fence.

With the Aug. 22-adoption date quickly approaching, the first of two public hearings was held Tuesday, July 18 in the council chambers at Midlothian City Hall. The tract of land, approved with Resolution 2017-32 by the board, consists of just over 0.18-square miles and includes the area of town east of U.S. Highway 287 and the roads of Dividend, Sand, Eastgate and Robinson that are not already in the city limits.

Though more than 40 residents filled the council chambers, only five addressed the council. Those who spoke touched on concerns surrounding the ability to provide city services, road conditions, changes in zoning and potential effects on existing businesses.

Speaking first was Marcella Olsen, an attorney representing eight property owners, who expressed the owners' concerns over possible zoning and code changes.

“My clients are concerned over the impact on their ability to continue their businesses. Many of the businesses have operated for many years," Olsen said.

For Shawn Yarbrough, the ability to provide required municipal services was of high concern. Reading from state statues regarding providing municipal services, Yarbrough said, “Full municipal services means including water and waste water services. You are not proposing to provide wastewater services and full municipal services require that. It also further states the service plan must basically provide improvements to the area that exist in other similar parts of the town. I believe that comparison is to the Midlothian Business Park. That is the city’s own standard of what that infrastructure should be."

Midlothian City Manager Chris Dick later addressed the service plan issue, stating, “I believe the water service out there is by Sardis Water. We cannot enter another utility service district. As for sewer, we do not plan to put in sewer lines in that area at this time. Many of the businesses have septic systems.”

David Karmy, representing Liquid Stone, said, “I have never seen anything created by this community supporting annexation. The actions taken by this council are similar to Obama Care. It’s forced upon the people who do not want it.”

Karmy also questioned the initial zoning module, which deems the area to be suburban, and, moving forward, if it would allow industrial or business occupants.

“The Future Land Use Plan designation for the proposed annexation area is the Suburban Module, which currently does not allow for industrial zoning uses," Midlothian Planning Manager Trenton Robertson said. "Staff is recommending and will bring forward an amendment to the Future Land Use Plan which would change the area from the Suburban Module to the Corporate Module to allow industrial zoning uses. At the time the annexation ordinance is adopted, staff will recommend this tract be zoned Medium Industrial (MI) to better comply with the uses already in existence.”

According to Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston, the 118 acres of land "needs to be annexed."

"The surrounding the area is already in the city limits," Houston stated. "This is the third attempt to annex this area. I do not know why the previous two failed."

Before Tuesday’s hearing, city officials held an open house at the Midlothian Convention Center to give residents and business owners a chance to meet with the council and the city staff to address any concerns.

The next public hearing will be held July 25 in the council chambers with the final ordinance adoption planned for Aug. 22.

Additional reporting by Travis M. Smith