The decision to stop forced annexation will soon be in the hands of the Ellis County Commissioners.

On Thursday, co-author of the petition, Louis Ponder, revealed to a small crowd that 11,576 signatures had been verified of the 13,347 collected — well north of the 9,484 signatures needed for an item to be placed on the May ballot that would allow voters to potentially classify Ellis County as tier-two.

Ponder explained, if passed by county voters, the change from a tier-one county to tier-two would “protect the property rights of everyone living outside the city limits, so they don’t have the city overreach taking them over. It’s to stop forced annexation.”

He added his passion for the project came about after his Midlothian property was annexed in January.

“And even if it didn’t I don’t think people should have their property rights stripped away in the county or anywhere in the state. When we get through here, we are going to be passing [the petition process] on to other counties to help them get theirs started too,” Ponder elaborated.

If Ellis County becomes a tier two county, residents will have the opportunity to vote for or against any future annexations, according to Chapter 43 of the Texas Legal Government Code.

Annexation is the process by which cities extend their boundary limits, implementing municipal services, regulations, voting privileges, and taxing authority to the extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Thursday's celebration took place outside the Ellis County Elections Office in downtown Waxahachie. Amongst with the dedicated petitioners and advocates was county commissioner Paul Perry, Pct.3, who was the first Ellis County commissioner to sign the petition on Feb. 12.

Perry, whose precinct is comprised of a small part of Waxahachie, a larger sum of Midlothian and down into the Italy Milford areas, said, “I have lots of rural residents in my area.”

“I think it’s important for the people to have some say in who governs them and for years I’ve seen cities annex areas and people pay higher taxes and not get the services they should,” Perry advocated.

He himself lives outside the city limits and empathizes with residents who live within the county.

“I think this will encourage the cities that annex to make sure that people have a deal they believe in and so they are able to have the service that would justify paying a higher tax rate,” Perry elaborated.

The Ellis County Elections Office now has 30 days to officially verify the signatures and then it will be in the hands of the Ellis County Commissioners. 

In a previous Daily Light article, Precinct 2 commissioner Lane Grayson explained, “If they meet the statute that is presented to us, it is our responsibility to authorize the election.”

Grayson also expressed he favored the petition.

Once the petition is in the hands of the commissioners’ court and for it to be placed on the May ballot, an agreement of three is required, whether that be two commissioners and the county judge or three commissioners.

For more information, follow the Facebook Ellis County Annexation Reform and website at http://stopinvoluntaryannexation.org/.