Truck stop water deal supports city annexation plans

As city administrators develop a long-term plan to annex growing areas just outside of the city limits, a deal recently approved by the Odessa City Council created a way for the Ector County Utility District to supply water for developments bordering Odessa while preserving the city’s option to absorb them later.

The deal was prompted by the development of a Pilot Flying J travel stop off Interstate 20 in the 3100 block of Meteor Crater Road. City officials said the company is targeting an August opening and needed to secure a water supply to make that happen.

In a rare emergency vote on Thursday, the City Council unanimously approved an amendment to its contract with the Ector County Utility District, which provides water to much of West Odessa. Normally, the utility district annexes areas before providing water. That takes city approval if it is land the city has the option to annex.

But with the recent agreement, ECUD will provide water to the truck stop at the company’s expense without annexing the property. If instead the utility district had annexed the property, city officials said the city would not be able to.

By declaring the issue an emergency, the City Council was able to approve the amendment at a public meeting without notifying the public three days in advance.

Interim City Attorney Gary Landers determined the emergency meeting was justified because “there is an urgent public necessity … so that construction at the location is not delayed …”

Landers said he had been negotiating the water deal for about two months.

City staff is reviewing areas where the city could tax revenue from new development in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ. The ETJ is land extending just beyond a city’s limits, allowing room to grow. The City can annex land in the area, where everything built has to conform to city zoning laws.

The area of the truck stop is one such area, but annexing it someday required the agreement with the utility district, City Manager Michael Marrero said.

“If you drive out there, you see nothing but businesses popping up,” Marrero said. “That is currently not annexed by anyone. We think it needs to be annexed by the City of Odessa. This particular thing is a little bit of a hiccup, because if we don’t have this sort of agreement we will never be able to have that Flying J.”