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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The Texas Constitution confers on cities the power to annex land. The Legislature prescribes procedures to be used by cities in conducting annexations. Statutory annexation procedures require municipalities to prepare annexation plans specifically identifying areas which may be annexed beginning on the third anniversary of the date the plan is adopted or amended. Texas Local Government Code ��43.051-.057 sets out annexation procedures for areas included in such three-year plans. Section 43.052(h) lists several types of exemptions from three-year plans. One type of area exempted is a sparsely populated area. If an area is exempt from inclusion in a three-year plan, annexation occurs according to procedures set out in subchapter 43C-1 of the code. Annexations of sparsely populated areas may be initiated subject to 30 days’ notice of the first hearing on the proposed annexation. Such annexations generally must be completed within 90 days of the time proceedings are begun. The estate of W. W. Caruth owned 405 acres of land within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city, a home-rule city. In August 2004, the estate applied to the city for initial approval of a residential development plan for the Caruth property. After the estate filed its application, the city initiated annexation procedures pursuant to �43.052(h)(l) in regard to two areas: one included the Caruth property and another included land not contiguous to the Caruth property. The city sent notices of annexation to affected persons pursuant to subchapter 43C-1 procedures for areas exempted from three-year annexation plans. The estate objected to the city’s attempt to annex using subchapter 43C-1 procedures and petitioned the city to include the Caruth property in the city’s three-year annexation plan. The Rockwall City Council adopted a resolution rejecting the estate’s request. The estate then asserted that the city was circumventing �43.052(c)’s requirement that annexations be carried out pursuant to a three-year plan and requested arbitration pursuant to �43.052(i). The city responded by advising the estate that the proposed annexations were exempt from inclusion in a three-year plan and that the estate’s “request for arbitration [was] not appropriate.” The estate filed suit in district court seeking an order compelling arbitration pursuant to �43.052(i) and a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction preventing the city from proceeding with annexation pending completion of arbitration, including related appeals, if any. The city responded, in part, by filing a plea to the jurisdiction asserting that the estate did not have standing, because the dispute concerned annexation procedures, the suit was a collateral attack on the annexation ordinances and proceedings, and the only way to challenge alleged annexation procedural irregularities was through quo warranto proceedings. The trial court denied the estate’s applications, granted the city’s plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed the action. The estate appealed. The 5th Court of Appeals agreed with the estate’s interpretation of �43.052(i). As a result, the 5th Court reversed and remanded with instructions that the trial court compel arbitration and enjoin the city from proceeding with annexation pending the outcome of arbitration. The city sought review by the Texas Supreme Court HOLDING:The court reversed the judgment of the 5th Court of Appeals and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Section 43.052(i), the court stated, provides: “If the municipality fails to take action on the petition, the petitioner may request arbitration of the dispute.” Construing the statute’s language to mean what it says, the court stated, results in a landowner having the right to request arbitration only if a city refuses to include the area in question in a three-year plan, fails to deny the petition and fails to otherwise accommodate the landowner. If a landowner petitions to be included in a three-year plan and the city acts on the petition in a way that is acceptable to the landowner, there is no dispute to be resolved. If the city denies the landowner’s petition, then the landowner has notified the city of its specific complaint in writing and pursued and exhausted a legislatively provided method for seeking redress before asking a state’s attorney to disrupt the city’s annexation process by filing a quo warranto action. The court declined “to read additional language into the statute as the Estate urges us to do.” It decided to go “no further than the unambiguous language of the statute to interpret it.” Section 43.052(i), the court stated, does not create a substantive private right for a landowner to compel arbitration if a municipality takes action on the landowner’s petition by denying it, as the city did. Accordingly, the court held that the estate lacked standing to pursue the suit that it filed. OPINION:Johnson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Jefferson, C.J., and Wainwright, Medina and Green, JJ., joined. DISSENT:Willett, J., joined by Hecht, O’Neill and Brister, JJ. “The Court espouses sound principles of statutory construction but unsoundly applies them. Basically, it takes literalism too literally. Read naturally, section 43.052(i) means this: landowners who request inclusion of their land in a city’s annexation plan may arbitrate the city’s failure to include it. “The City’s position � arbitration is only available if the City ignores the petition, not if it rejects it � makes little sense.”

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