Small, unincorporated communities in Texas can become legally incorporated towns after following a number of steps. This requires coordination from a group of residents, approval from the majority of voters in the area and legal expertise. The rules for incorporation are outlined in Texas Local Government Code. Towns can be incorporated as type A, B or C general law municipalities or as a home rule municipality with its own charter.
Become a Texas Town
Determine the population and size of the community. The rules for incorporating a town differs based on the population and size of the town in some cases.
Decide which type of municipality form is the best fit for the community. There are three types of general law municipalities, which vary depending on the size of the town. The other option is to become a home rule town, which requires a town to draft a charter.
A town can apply to become a Type A General Law municipality if it has at least 600 residents. If the town has fewer than 2,000 residents, it must not occupy more than 2 square miles of surface area. If it has between 2,001 residents and 4,999 residents, it must be smaller than 4 square miles. If it has 5,001 to 9,999 people, it must be smaller than 9 square miles.
A town can apply to become a Type B General Law municipality if it has a population of 201 to 9,999 inhabitants. There is no size restriction for this type of municipality.
A town can apply to become a Type C General Law municipality if it has between 201 and 4,999 residents. If the town has fewer than 2,000 residents, it must not occupy more than 2 square miles of surface area. If it has between 2,001 residents and 4,999 residents, it must be smaller than 4 square miles. These types must set up a city commission after incorporation.
The other type of city is a Home Rule city. There must be at least 5,000 residents in the area to do this. This requires the town to write a charter detailing all the rules that will govern the city.
Draw boundaries for the town. This will be used in the application sent to the county judge.
Collect signatures of registered voters in the town. How many signatures needed will be based on the number of registered voters living within the boundaries. For small, dense towns that fall under the Type A General Law municipality, only 50 signatures are needed. In other cases, 10 percent of the registered voters in the area must sign the petition. To find out how many registered voters live in the area, contact the county’s voter registrar.
Submit a petition to the county judge with the required number of signatures. Include the proposed town name and boundaries. The county judge will review the petition and set an election date. Home Rule cities should include the proposed charter.
Vote. If the majority of voters approve of the incorporation, the town will be registered.
Items you will need
List of registered voters
Talk to an attorney to make sure you apply to become the right type of town. Ask for help from the county voter registrar to make sure you have correct population counts.
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