By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON – Harker Heights on Tuesday filed a lawsuit asking the district courts to make a judgment concerning Nolanville's population count and extraterritorial jurisdiction expansion.

"One way or the other, it will help decide what the ETJ is," Harker Heights City Manager Steve Carpenter said.

The lawsuit is a petition seeking a declaratory judgment, according to a civil court document. It requests the court to validate a population ordinance approved by Nolanville in December 2008 and to determine each city's extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The suit describes the history of Harker Heights' and Belton's questioning of Nolanville's population count and the studies done after Nolanville's count. It later claims that Nolanville miscalculated its population count to obtain a greater ETJ and the ability to draft a city charter.

"(The) defendant's conduct ... suggests an ongoing and concerted effort to artificially inflate its data, to willfully disregard the truth of certain indisputable facts to thwart or delay all efforts to corroborate the declaration in the ordinance," the suit states.

The population count extended Nolanville's ETJ an additional half-mile into areas claimed by Belton and Harker Heights after annexation earlier this year extended their ETJs.

Harker Heights and Belton have tried numerous times to settle the territorial dispute, but Nolanville has never made a formal proposal for an agreement, Carpenter said.

"I feel like we really had no other choice but to go to the district courts," he said.

Belton is not mentioned as a plaintiff in the suit filed Tuesday, but Belton City Manager Sam Listi said Wednesday that the city will join the litigation."We do plan on filing an intervention in support of Harker Heights' petition in the near future," Listi said.

Filing an intervention allows Belton to become part of the lawsuit once the paperwork is filed and accepted by the district courts.

Nolanville Mayor Emma McCullough said Wednesday she was unaware a lawsuit had been filed.

"I haven't heard anything from the attorney, and I assume that he would be the first to know," McCullough said.

The Nolanville City Council hasn't discussed an agreement with Belton or Harker Heights since July, and has no plans to do so, McCullough said.

"If we get served with papers, then it will be handled by the attorneys," McCullough said. "The council will have nothing to do with it."

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7554.

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