by Victor Lopez
ODESSA-- It all has to do with Extraterritorial Juridistction or ETJ. Simply put, it's land, just outside Odessa's city limits, that happens to be in both Ector and Midland counties. But an agreement between the two cities clarifies how far out each one can go to expand.
It's a 23 square mile stretch of land, one mile west and parallel to FM 1788. According to Andrea Goodson, Public Information Coordinator for the city of Odessa, it serves a definite purpose, "The agreement between the City of Odessa and the City of Midland simply, very clearly defines the city of Odessa's eastern boundary and the city of Midland's western boundary.
The land has always been there, but now, the City of Odessa has access to it, if they ever want it. "The city can go in and annex that land and make it part of the City of Odessa, meaning businesses or residents in that area would have City of Odessa utilities, water, police, fire and ambulance service," Goodson explained.
Development in an area just off the Midland/Ector County line, between I-20 and Highway 80, was stopped temporarily, due to problems getting water and sewer service from Midland to the site. The ETJ agreement should help solve that, and future problems like it.
According to Goodson, "That decision (to halt development) may have been a catalyst to one City saying yes or no to something, but it was not the cause of this agreement."
But don't expect to see building and construction going on any time soon. Goodson says there are no such plans on the books. City officials first need to decide if they want to annex the land, then how to zone it, either as residential, business or industrial, "The City of Odessa is not annexing this land. It's just within our sphere of control, should the City of Odessa decide to annex it in the future."
Right now, the City of Odessa's ETJ is three and half miles. If the population increases to over 100,000 by the 2010 census, that boundry will increase to five miles.