Seeds of Lindale’s growth planted nearly decade ago

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two stories exploring Lindale’s business growth and some of the factors which have contributed to this expansion. Today’s story deals with the foresight and vision Lindale city leaders had when they negotiated boundary deals with the city of Tyler.

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It’s easy to assume when looking at Lindale’s recent growth surge that it is a recent phenomenon.

Yet the seeds for this healthy expansion of business and residential in and around the city were planted several years ago. And much like the preparation from the successful farmer or gardener, things were able to flourish after proper ground work had been made.

Essentially, Lindale’s current climate of growth can be traced to some 10 years ago, when city officials were able to foresee a day when, if something wasn’t done, the city of Tyler could surround Lindale and Hideaway on the south and east, keeping Lindale’s growth limited to just its annexed areas.

At the center of all this map studying was Lindale and Tyler’s Extra Territorial Jurisdictions, or ETJs.

By statute, a city’s ETJ – the land that can be annexed into a city’s limits – is based on population. Tyler’s population allows for a five-mile extension past it’s city limits, while Lindale’s is limited to just one mile.

Enter a couple of former Lindale mayors, a city manager and the city council (as well as Hideaway city officials) who performed the leg work to make sure any future Lindale growth wouldn’t be stifled.

As far back as the mid-1980s, Lindale city officials were aware that slowly but surely, Tyler’s boundary push was moving to the north which led to discussions at Lindale city hall.

By February 2010, these concerns became crystal clear. Tyler’s city council approved a couple of measures to ensure water and sewer services would be provided along Highway 69 North. At the time, Tyler city officials expressed no desire of encroaching on Lindale’s space.

But it didn’t take long for Lindale officials to see the obvious: regardless of what Tyler officials said, action should be taken and soon.

Then Lindale Jim Mallory visited with many landowners who were within the Lindale ETJ but didn’t live within an incorporated city limits.

“I wanted to make sure they understood that unless they petitioned for inclusion in (the Lindale) ETJ, there was a likelihood they could eventually become part of Tyler,’’ he said.

The former mayor’s work paid dividends when the Lindale City Council approved a petition – signed by approximately 30 landowners within the Lindale ETJ but not living within a city’s limits – effectively making these landowners members of the Lindale ETJ, subject to annexation by Lindale but not Tyler.

Even though Tyler officials felt this was at least unorthodox and at most illegal, a ruling from the Texas Municipal League settled the matter: Lindale was well within its rights to take such action.

“It was Owen (Scott) who discovered Lindale could indeed proceed with its plan,’’ said Lindale City Manager Carolyn Caldwell, who worked with the former city manager as his city secretary.

As long as the property is contiguous and not in another ETJ, the property owner can request to be part of that city’s ETJ, Scott learned.

Meetings were convened in the next few weeks involving both Tyler and Lindale officials and in June, 2010, the Tyler City Council voted to accept the ETJ agreement with Lindale.

“I remember traveling all the way down to Crockett to talk to people who owned land along I-20,’’ Scott said.

This assured future Lindale annexations wouldn’t be landlocked and guaranteeing any future property and sales taxes would go to Lindale coffers.

The natural progression from this groundwork laid nearly a decade ago is the growth sprouting from virtually every corner of the city today.

LEADERS’ VISION

In late 2016, Caldwell was hired by the Lindale City Council as city manager, replacing Craig Lindholm, whose contract wasn’t renewed earlier that year.

She served as interim city manager when Scott retired in January, 2014 until Lindholm’s hiring in June, 2014.

Having a ringside seat to all these land machinations has given her a unique perspective of the situation.

“This (the ETJ work) was the council’s vision,’’ she said. “It was a milestone for this city. (City leaders) knew that you have to have a vision of where you are going and they knew this was going to be our growth area.’’

Lindale’s ETJ is unique, Caldwell said, noting the diverse pattern it makes on the map.

“You can look at a state map and not see another ETJ that looks like ours,’’ she said, adding Lindale’s growth is virtually unlimited to the east and north. “Lindale has a long history of people protecting it and being proactive.’’

NEXT WEEK: City’s master plan focuses on the future.

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