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Millitary Base Realignment Fears Mix With Annexation Concerns

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Members of the Texas House Committee on Defense and Veteran Affairs meet in the San Antonio City Council Chambers Monday for a hearing on encroachment near military bases. State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) (right) is the chair.

Could San Antonio military bases be on the chopping block in a future round of federal military cuts?  It’s something the city wants to protect against.   How to do that was part of the conversation when a Texas legislative committee met in San Antonio Monday.

In the next two years, the federal government’s Base Realignment And Closure process - or BRAC - may close or reassign military installations across the country. San Antonio remembers what happened in 1995 when the BRAC process resulted in the closing of Kelly Air Force Base. 

Retired Major General Juan Ayala, Director of the City of San Antonio’s Office of Military Affairs, told the Texas House Committee on Defense and Veteran Affairs any decision that prevents the city from controlling land use around military installations- even if the property is outside city limits- could be a problem.

“Any action by our own Texas Legislature which will not actively protect, when given the clear opportunity to do so, our missions and our military will be perceived in my opinion by BRAC scorers as a lack of community support and more importantly a lack of support of our military presence in the Great state of Texas,” He said.

The concern is over unincorporated parts of Bexar County next to military facilities like Randolph Air Force Base and Camp Bullis.   The city says it wants to retain the right to annex those areas and control growth.  Mike Stewart, a homeowner near Boerne whose home may be annexed into San Antonio believes the city really wants annexation rights to increase the city’s tax base.

“Some of the elected officials are claiming if we’re not annexed into the city, Camp Bullis is going to close because my house, and the streetlight down the street from my house is going to impact the mission," he said "Well, that’s clearly a specious argument.”

A bill that would require property owners be allowed to vote on whether they want to be annexed died at the end of the legislative session last month.  It’s on a list of measures state lawmakers may again take up when they meet in a special session in July.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules