SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — The City of Kirby is looking to grow — in terms of land area — and the city council has asked city staff to look into its options.
Kirby, which is located just east of Brooke Army Medical Center, has no extraterritorial jurisdiction and is nearly completely surrounded by the City of San Antonio — except for one neighborhood along Foster Road which is in unincorporated Bexar County, but within San Antonio’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The primary issue the City of Kirby has been battling is finding new ways to generate tax revenue to pay for its needs. As the City of San Antonio has done, annexation and new development is often the biggest generator of new tax revenues.
“If we don’t pursue something and just sit here like we are, we are going to be sorrier then than we are now,” Kirby city councilman Jerry Lehman said at last Monday’s special city council meeting. “This all started way back when Kirby wanted to stay small — they didn’t want nothing. We want a little horse town.”
Effectively, the general area the City of Kirby is investigating is the entire area within FM 78, Loop 410, Interstate 10 and Foster Road. All but the Candlewood subdivision within that box is within in the City of San Antonio, including the Sunrise neighborhood.
“Sunrise, which we all bow our heads when we even think about it, but we need to be able to try to look at those three different sections,” Lehman acknowledged.
“San Antonio doesn’t want Sunrise, that’s too much trouble over there. But if we are going to take in Sunrise going that way, they have to be willing to give us the rest of FM 78 also — the newer housing to Foster Road if we are going to do that,” Kirby city councilman Joe Salazar also said in the meeting.
The Sunrise neighborhood has been plagued by shootings in recent years. In each case, San Antonio police chief William McManus told KTSA News they were all targeted shootings and usually drug related.
The neighborhood suffers like most subdivisions within San Antonio city limits along FM 78 by being relatively isolated from the rest of the city — often meaning police and fire crews have to drive through other cities or through unincorporated areas of the county to respond.
Anecdotally, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office often responds quicker to calls for service in unincorporated areas in the Foster Road area than the San Antonio Police Department does to its areas of responsibility along Foster Road and Interstate 10.
“Sunrise is a real big problem right now,” explained Salazar. “It’s always been since I’ve been here. They have never received the proper police service and fire service. I know San Antonio will be willing to give that up real quick, but what are we going to get in return?”
Sunrise is the only residential neighborhood within San Antonio city limits along Foster Road, though some it has commercial and industrial properties within its jurisdiction along FM 78, Rittiman and Foster roads.
A few years ago, the City of Converse and the City of San Antonio agreed to a large scale annexation and border adjustment agreement that will triple the size of Converse, bringing its city limits to Interstate 10 to the south and Foster Road to the west.
That process is expected to wrap up by 2033.
The first jurisdiction swap as part of that agreement was moving the Northampton subdivision — which had suffered from very slow police response times — from San Antonio to Converse.
That deal had Converse take over areas of San Antonio that were well out of reach of its police and fire services as well as having Converse annex areas like Camelot II the City of San Antonio deemed was not worth the expense to annex itself.
That neighborhood spent years suffering from the lack of city services.
In order for Converse to take on an area San Antonio deemed was not profitable for its operation, it agreed to give Converse high-revenue industrial land along Interstate 10.
The City of Kirby is evaluating its options in ways it can grow. Its primary options are to ask the City of San Antonio to turn over land just outside of Kirby’s city limits.
This could include all of the current industrial properties that have been developed and have yet to be developed along Loop 410 and along Ackerman Road. The city will also look into whether asking San Antonio to release its extraterritorial jurisdiction over Candlewood.
The big concern for Kirby is what it will cost to maintain these new areas, should San Antonio agree to any sort of a deal.
Kirby is already struggling to maintain its current roads. Plus, whichever areas are given to Kirby will present different services — and expenses — it will need to provide.
“[The lack of growth and decision to stay small] gotten to us to where our tax money for our citizens has really gone through the roof,” Lehman said at the special meeting. “And if we don’t try to do something to stop this, it’s going to get worse.”
The industrial areas will be a major strain on the Kirby Fire Department, which will need to invest in major resources and training to handle new hazmat risks it will need to respond to. However, its impact on the police department will be minimal.
Should the residential areas become part of Kirby, the city’s fire department already provides services to Candlewood through a contract it has with Emergency Services District No. 11. Sunrise would be an additional area to cover, but does not require and different training or resources it currently uses for the current city limits. However, the police department would likely need more resources to focus on correcting issues in Sunrise.
The City of Kirby will be evaluating these expenses with the tax revenues these areas will generate.
“We’re not asking for property all the way to Converse,” Salazar stated, though if it were to take in Candlewood and Sunrise, it would abut the future western boundary of Converse. “We’re just trying to make it to where the City of Kirby can survive.”
The Kirby city staff will look into the cost of the engineering and cost/benefit analysis for all of the land inside the FM 78/Loop 410/Interstate 10/Foster Road box, then do an evaluation and then hold public hearings on input for the plan.
From there, it will decide whether it will discuss the idea with the City of San Antonio. If San Antonio is interested — which some city council members believe they will be rid of Sunrise — the two sides will negotiate a plan that works for both cities.