Buda proceeds with 654-acre annexation

On April 30, Buda City Council unanimously approved annexation of 654.96 acres of land around the city's limits. The annexation was part of the city's annual growth plan approved by City Council.

Mayor Todd Ruge said the largest piece of the annexation, about 619.77 acres located east of FM 967 and south of Windmill Way, was annexed in anticipation of industrial commercial growth in the city.

"There are ongoing talks with industrial commercial businesses," Ruge said. "In a lot of cases we're in competition with other cities to attract new businesses."

Also included in the annexation plan was a group of three parcels of land in the northwest corner of Main Street and I-35 that totaled 34.19 acres.

Chester Davis, a 34-year Buda resident, owns American Fireworks, which has a brick-and-mortar superstore on one of those parcels. According to city ordinances 14.03.002 and 14.03.003, it is illegal to sell or detonate fireworks within the city limits.

Davis said since the annexation was approved on April 30, his business is now operating illegally.

"When I built my business over there, I never dreamed that it would be annexed," Davis said. "Do I feel like Buda's favorite son? No, not really. I understand that I sell fireworks and I'm a wholesaler and retailer of fireworks and have been for a long time, but still, it's a business. I don't think small businesses or businesses matter to [city officials] at all. Or at least not my business."

In 2011, Davis was faced with a similar dilemma when the southwest corner of FM 967 and FM 1626, where he had set up an American Fireworks stand, was annexed.

In December 2011, Davis sent a letter to Buda City Manager Kenneth Williams pleading his case. He argued that allowing the business to remain at the intersection would provide increased sales tax revenue and regulatory control for the city.

Davis also included a copy of a "grandfather clause" variance he received during a similar situation in Cuero. That variance allowed all fireworks stands that were in operation as of Oct. 25, 2011, to remain in operation after an ordinance banning the sale and detonation of fireworks was passed.

Buda City Council ultimately struck down his request, and Davis was forced to move his stand down FM 1626 outside the city limits. Davis said he has seen a noticeable decrease in business at the stand's new location.

The difference in this case is that the 3,000-square-foot superstore, from which Davis has been selling fireworks for about 20 years, is not a mobile location.

"It will take us a month to unload, reload, take down, tear down, take everything apart, everything," Davis said. "It's not impossible but it's going to be extremely costly; extremely expensive because there's so much money invested there."

Ruge said a grandfather clause is not being considered in this case.

"There is a possibility that for that specific site we could extend some more time to them," Ruge said.

Council is set to discuss the issue on May 7.



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