By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
NOLANVILLE – The City Council will meet in a special session at 7 p.m. Monday to seek legal advice from the city attorney regarding litigation or a settlement offer with Harker Heights and Belton about Nolanville's population count and extraterritorial jurisdiction.
On Dec. 9, Nolanville passed a new ordinance claiming a population of more than 5,000 people and expanding its ETJ to a one-mile radius beyond the city limits, allowing itself more room to grow.
Harker Heights and Belton are both working on annexations and changes to their ETJs. A shifting population count and a larger ETJ in Nolanville could have an impact on the neighboring cities' plans.
Belton and Harker Heights are planning to swap ETJs, Fred Morriss, Belton's development service director, said on Dec. 17. But part of the land in the swap is in Nolanville's extended ETJ.
Nolanville council members referred questions about the city's plans and its potential conflict with Harker Heights and Belton to Mayor Emma McCullough, who did not respond to requests for an interview.
Having a population of 5,000 people means Nolanville could vote to become a home-rule city instead of a general-law city. According to information from the Texas Municipal League, home-rule status would allow Nolanville to make more laws rather than only following rules and regulations set by the state.
Nolanville's population seems a little like an Etch-A-Sketch, with city council actions claiming more than 6,000 residents in 2008, then lowering that amount to about 5,000 residents. Both figures are greater than the U.S. Census Bureau's estimated population of 2,743 residents for the city in 2007.
The actual number may never be known.
In August, the City Council passed a resolution that placed the city's population between 6,000 and 7,000 people. After the mayor resigned in late October, the City Council rescinded that population count, saying the methods for calculating residents were flawed, and agreed to do another count.
In a special session on Dec. 9, the City Council passed an ordinance that declares the Nolanville's population to be just greater than 5,000 people. The ordinance also expanded the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction, to incorporate all the land within a one-mile radius of the city limits.
The Dec. 9 ordinance states that a "committee conducted a physical count of the number of inhabited households within the city limits."
Attached to the ordinance is a list of streets and the number of households located on them. To reach a population of 5,000, the committee used the U.S. Census Bureau's 2000 average household size number and multiplied it by each residence they counted.
But the numbers still don't add up.
The Killeen Daily Herald conducted a random survey of streets in Nolanville and at times found the numbers to be different.
On Manhattan Drive, for example, Nolanville counted 36 multi-family homes and two mobile homes, according to the ordinance, giving the street an estimated population of 104 people.
The Herald survey counted nine duplexes on Manhattan Drive, which would count as 18 households. Some of the residences were for lease. Using the same Census Bureau figures, and not counting the vacancies, Manhattan Drive would have a population of about 48 people.
On West Lonita, Nolanville counted 17 homes with an estimated population of about 46. The Herald survey showed 14 single family dwellings, one duplex and five mobile homes for a total of 21 households, with a population of about 58.
Another problem with Nolanville's population count is all the vacant homes.
The Census Bureau said 13.9 percent of the homes in Nolanville were vacant in 2000, but the city's recent survey doesn't appear to account for any vacancies.
Nolanville's count of Pointer Street showed eight homes with a street population estimated at 22 people.
The Herald survey showed nine homes; however, all but two homes had "For Sale" signs in the front yards and appeared to be vacant.
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7554.
Some U.S. Census Bureau 2000 population numbers for Nolanville
Number of households units: 907
Average household size of owner-occupied unit: 2.77 people
Average household size of renter-occupied unit: 2.69 people
Vacancy rate: 13.9 percent of homes