SHADY SHORES — Three residents are seeking an injunction to block Shady Shores from annexing 63 acres that town officials originally believed belonged to the town.
Each party has declined to comment on the possible injunction, but court documents and town minutes reveal the details about the conflicts between the town and residents. According to court records, the conflict has been dragging out in a Denton County court for nearly a year and the two parties are expected to be back in court Sept. 16.
Residential organization Hidden Valley Airpark Association Inc., or HVAA, owns the 63 acres and petitioned Shady Shores last year to annex it, according to town minutes.
The plaintiffs, residents Ralph Haber, Keith Perry and Jeff Pohlman allege that Shady Shores officials did not follow the right procedures related to annexing property, according to records. The plaintiffs say the town failed to give proper notice to the community and failed to give the residents a time to give public input.
Town Attorney Jim Shepherd said that annexing the land is in line with the powers the town is granted by the state. The plaintiffs also claim to be shareholders of the association and said they want to make sure their right to the land is secure.
However, HVAA president J.R. Mosier denies their claim. He said it’s a member-only association and according to records, the three plaintiffs are not on the board.
“There have never been any stockholders of the association,” he said.
A board member list from the association does not list Haber, Perry or Pohlman. The association’s attorney, Jeffrey Hines, said that as a nonprofit organization, the association cannot legally have stockholders or shareholders.
The Town Council unanimously agreed to annex the land in November 2012, but has yet to finalize the annexation, pending the injunction, according to court records and town minutes.
The conflict began when former Mayor Jerry Williams found an error in the town’s map almost two years ago.
Williams said he discovered that half of the residential association’s property was located in the town’s limits, while the other half belonged in the county.
He said many believed that the entire property was located within town limits.
As a result, board members of the association requested in July 2012 to have the 63 acres of mostly undeveloped land annexed by the town.
And that’s when the residents and the town began to clash.
Mosier said the association wanted Shady Shores to annex the land to prevent Corinth from possibly snatching it in the future.
HVAA representative Steve Aughinbaugh told council members in July 2012 that if the land were annexed by Corinth, the association would be serviced by two entities.
Association officials said they prefer to stay unified under the ordinances that Shady Shores provides.
The town declined to discuss the request for an injunction, but according to town minutes, Shepherd said the city of Corinth could choose to annex the property in the future if it wanted to, even if the city currently doesn’t have plans to do so.
Shepherd said that as a home-rule city, Corinth has the ability to annex land that’s adjacent to its city limits.
Several residents in addition to the plaintiffs have voiced their concerns about the annexation during council meetings.
The residents have said the annexation will result in the city turning the 63 acres of pasture land into another residential or commercial development.
Mosier said he believes that the entire issue is a misunderstanding.
“Some residents may be misunderstanding the word annexation in a document to think maybe the city was taking the property, but that’s not the case,” he said. “The property has and will continue to be maintained by the Hidden Valley Airpark Association.”
Mosier also said that there are no plans to develop the land anytime soon, but that could change in five to 10 years from now.
This isn’t the first time the association, the town and the three plaintiffs have bumped heads. Minutes show that the plaintiffs have questioned the town’s actions before, even though the town’s attorney repeatedly defends the town.
And one of the plaintiffs, Perry, has also gone to court against the association for several years. Court records show that his first bout with the association lasted from 2002 to 2009 over a contract dispute.
That civil case was dismissed.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882and via Twitter at @JDHarden.