May a city apply its ordinances in the ETJ?

A 1997 attorney general opinion concludes that                   

[a]s a general rule, a city can exercise its powers only within the city’s corporate limits unless power is expressly or impliedly extended by the Texas Constitution or by statute to apply to areas outside the limits. Extraterritorial power will be implied only when such power is reasonably incident to those powers expressly granted or is essential to the object and purposes of the city. ‘[A]ny fair, reasonable, or substantial doubt as to the existence of a power will be resolved against the municipality.’


Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. LO-97-055 (1997) (citations omitted); cf. also, Town of Lakewood Vill. v. Bizios, 493 S.W.3d 527, 531 (Tex. 2016); FM Props. Operating Co. v. City of Austin, 22 S.W.3d 868, 902 (Tex. 2000).

The following are examples of state laws that authorize cities to regulate in the ETJ:                   
  • Health & Safety Code § 713.009 – Cemeteries
  • Local Government Code Chapter 43 – Annexation
  • Local Government Code § 212.003(a) – Subdivision and Platting Regulations
  • Local Government Code §§ 216.003, 216.902 – Signs
  • Local Government Code § 217.042 – Nuisances within 5,000 feet (home rule city only)
  • Local Government Code § 341.903 – Policing City-Owned Property (home rule city only)
  • Local Government Code § 552.001 – Utility System
  • Water Code § 26.177 – Pollution Control and Abatement 

State law prohibits a city from regulating the following in the ETJ: (1) the use of a building or property for business, industrial, residential, or other purposes; (2) the bulk, height, or number of buildings constructed on a tract of land; (3) the size of a building that can be constructed on a tract of land; (4) the number of residential units that can be built per acre of land; and (5) the size, type, or method of construction of a water or wastewater facility that can be constructed to served a developed tract in certain circumstances. TEX. LOC. GOV’T CODE § 212.003(a).

The Texas Supreme Court held that general law cities may not extend their building codes into the ETJ. See Town of Lakewood Vill. v. Bizios, 493 S.W.3d 527 (Tex. 2016). And the Dallas Court of Appeals held that a home rule city “lacks authority to require a landowner developing property in its [extraterritorial jurisdiction] to obtain City building permits, inspections and approvals, and pay related fees.” Collin Cty. v. City of McKinney, 553 S.W.3d 79 (Tex. App.— Dallas 2018).

Show All Answers

1. What is the extraterritorial jurisdiction and why was it created?
2. How much territory is encompassed in a city’s ETJ?
3. Why does my city’s ETJ encompass a different amount of territory than provided in state law?
4. What happens to the ETJ when a city annexes property?
5. Should a city have a map showing the boundaries of its ETJ?
6. May cities swap ETJ?
7. May a city apply its ordinances in the ETJ?
8. Do city taxes apply in the ETJ?
9. May qualified voters residing in the ETJ ever vote in a city election?
10. Do city police officers have any authority to make arrests in the ETJ?
11. Do municipal courts have jurisdiction over cases that arise in the ETJ?