The city of Denison is 22-percent larger now than it was Monday, following a vote of the City Council to finalize the annexation of 3,196 acres off Lake Texoma as part of Schuler Development’s $4 billion Preston Harbour plan. The vote represented the end of a legal odyssey that has lasted more than a decade, said local officials.

The city of Denison is 22-percent larger now than it was Monday, following a vote of the City Council to finalize the annexation of 3,196 acres off Lake Texoma as part of Schuler Development’s $4 billion Preston Harbour plan. The vote represented the end of a legal odyssey that has lasted more than a decade, said local officials.


The annexation, along with the adoption of the corresponding policy creating a Tax Investment and Reimbursement Zone, was the civic highlight of a busy Council meeting at City Hall Monday night.


"This concludes all actions related to the Schuler development," said Mayor Jared Johnson after the vote. "The next step for the city of Denison and the developer is to see dirt moving. I see Mr. (George) Schuler’s attorney is here, and my only question to him is, ‘Did you bring a shovel?’" the mayor said to laughter from the audience.


The annexation allows the city to collect property taxes on any homes or commercial structures built by Schuler. Through the TIRZ, a portion of those property taxes will be used to reimburse the developer for the cost of building roads, waterlines, and other infrastructure improvements that will be ceded to the city upon completion.


Councilor Michael Baecht, whose fourth district now includes the added land, said the annexation gives Denison a mantle as "the city on the lake."


"It’s gorgeous land when you go out there and look at the vistas. It gives Denison a strong foothold to actually be on the shores of Lake Texoma. We’re really looking forward to the future growth that’s going to occur over the next 20 or 30 years out there," said Baecht.


In other council business, Mayor Jared Johnson presented local baseball phenom Hunter Watson with a proclamation declaring Oct. 7 as Hunter Watson Day, honoring the 14-year-old’s selection as one of 16 members of the U.S. National Baseball Team. Watson was chosen for the team after beating-out more than 280 other players during tryouts in Cary, N.C. earlier this year. He will accompany the national team to Latin America and possibly Taiwan to play in international competitions next summer.


The mayor also recognized local athletes Byron Light and Jayden Hunt for their achievements in track and field, the latter as the Female Texas State Athlete of the Year.


Firefighters Kevin Arrington and Jared DuLaney were presented with meritorious service awards for bravery in the line of duty for an incident in which they saved a woman from a burning vehicle. Police Officer Troy LaRoche was honored for providing a hotel room at personal expense for a person in need.


"This type of behavior really exemplifies Denison’s core values," said City Manager Robert Hanna.


The Council approved the nomination of former City Attorney Tom Akins for the Grayson Central Appraisal District’s Board and voted to reappoint former Mayor Robert Brady as the chairman of the Denison Development Alliance’s Board.


After a brief discussion, members voted to increase the city’s police force by two officers, bringing the total number of patrolmen to 33. The additional force was included in the city’s 2014 budget, and therefore will not adversely affect the city’s financials, said city staff.


An ordinance approving a negotiated rate with Atmos Energy was also approved by the Council, meaning yearly natural gas bills will be about $9 higher next year — less than a dollar per month. The amount agreed upon is below the $14.65 increase Atmos was seeking. The rate hike represents a 1.75% jump over the previous year.


Based on recommendations from Denison’s Chief Building Official, council members approved the demolition of three dilapidated houses, located at 523 W. Ford, 701 W. Munson and 321 W. Bond. Demolition will be undertaken by existing city staff at an approximate cost to the City of $3,300 in total. A property at 944 W. Ford was granted a temporary, six-month reprieve after the owner listed ongoing improvements.