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Eland Farms water district sues Pilot Point

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan
By Jenna Duncan

Eland Farms, a water district near Pilot Point headed by real estate developers, sued the city of Pilot Point for trying to annex 20 acres of land from Eland Farms that the city says is part of its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The 20.3 acres is part of 25.9 acres added to the Denton County Municipal Utility District No. 7 last year, but the city is moving forward to make the land part of Pilot Point, according to court filings.

Eland Farms filed the lawsuit in district court May 16, and the city answered June 4.

The petition by the water district states that the city cannot annex the property because it is part of MUD No. 7, so the city would have to annex the entire district or nothing at all, according to the water district’s interpretation of state law.

“The bottom line is we feel like what they’re trying to do is illegal and shouldn’t be done. It’s something the law doesn’t allow for,” said Robin McGuire, vice president of land and general counsel for Eland Farms.

The property is in an area that Pilot Point says is within its ETJ, and therefore believes it can annex.

The Pilot Point City Council spoke with City Attorney Andy Messer about the annexation, development agreements and boundary issues in its June 9 meeting, according to the agenda.

The annexation could be voted on next week, Messer said. The agenda for Monday’s meeting will not be finalized until Thursday.

Until the legality of the issue is settled in court — which will determine whether the 20 acres belongs to the city of Pilot Point or Eland Farms — the City Council will move forward with the annexation, Messer said.

“Until some of these issues are crystallized in court, I want to continue the path we’ve been on,” he said. “We’ve researched, and we feel confident the annexation is legal.”

The district has had problems with Pilot Point before. In May 2013, negotiations between Eland Farms owner Van Nichols and the city to develop a municipal utility district ended. This led to Eland Farms annexing to another utility district later in the year.

The purpose of working with the city would be to create the district, where property would then be developed thanks to tax bonds.

Property owners in the district would then pay property and utility taxes to pay back the bonds used for the development.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.