Lucas City Council Comes to the Aid of Residents in Distress
Much of the Lucas City Council’s agenda for its meeting on Thursday, February 7, 2019 was all about coming to the aid of residents in distress, and in a variety of unique ways.
Anita Ahmadi, who lives on W. McGarity Lane, for example, petitioned the Council to allow her to install a gate, at her own cost, on Allison Lane, a gravel road off McGarity Lane the provides the sole access to her property. A resident there for twenty years, Ahmadi explained that because motorists, including heavy construction trucks, often attempt to use Allison Lane to access the Walmart store that is adjacent to Allison Lane, the gravel road is often dangerously degraded. The problem arises because there is no access to Walmart from Allison Lane and vehicles are forced to U-turn back to McGarity Lane. In the process they tear apart the gravel road and grass areas along the road. Because Allison Lane is city owned property, Ahmadi’s request to install a gate to block traffic would present serious potential legal challenges. Nonetheless, throughout the lengthy discussion, councilmembers expressed support and sympathy for Ahmadi’s plight. In the end, Mayor Jim Olk observed that, “This issue is much more complex than it appeared originally. I believe we must secure additional information about this situation in order to craft a solution that will be proper and effective. I will therefore request that this matter be tabled temporarily to allow the city’s staff to bring us sufficient data at our next meeting with which to create a solution to resolve Ms. Ahmadi’s dilemma. Ahmadi, thanked the council for its consideration and then apologized to the audience because of the lengthy discussion.
Since 2016 residents of the sub-division along Cimarron Trail off Parker Road have twice requested that a median opening on Parker Road to provide for an eastbound left turn to northbound Cimarron Trail be constructed. Traffic along Parker Road has increased so significantly that residents are often unable to enter or exit their subdivision or to conveniently turn left or right when traffic is heavy or when an accident occurs as is frequently the case. Residents in the area are also unable to safely enter or exit to Parker Road when trailering their cattle and/or horses and are also concerned that in the event of an EMS or fire emergency the city’s emergency apparatus will be delayed in responding. Earlier, the city requested that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) consider constructing the left turn lane. After examining the roadway, TxDOT declined to construct the lane because it would not meet their minimum standard for the length of a turn lane. After considerable discussion, a motion was adopted that authorizes the City Manager to negotiate and proceed with agreements, not to exceed $200,000, for the construction of the turn lane. The large contingent of residents in attendance enthusiastically applauded the council’s action.
Perhaps the most critical issue to come before the council at this meeting, however, had to do with persistent and serious flooding and standing ground water that has been occurring at Lemontree Country Estates, Kingswood Estates, Meadows and the headwaters of Muddy Creek with increasing frequency and severity. Residents, including three members of the city council, report flooding so serious that it has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. One resident explained that she now has what appears to be a moat around her house, another related how a new pond at her front door is home to a raft of ducks, Mayor Olk reported that because of the constant muddy conditions on his property, cleaning their dogs and mopping all the floors has become a daily routine and Councilmember Lawrence recounted how he and his wife awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of water in their home and when he investigated found himself in ankle deep water.
City Engineer Stanton Foerster shared a sketch of the drainage paths he mapped across the city and described the situation in the aforementioned subdivisions as especially problematic. Standing water can attract disease-carrying mosquitos; manure from the livestock throughout the area is polluting water; and, many fear that when the water eventually does dry up and the soil contracts, it is likely that shifting foundations and roadway damage will occur. Foerster shared that water drainage studies can be exorbitantly expensive. It was decided to authorize the City Manager to request proposals for drainage studies in the sub-divisions most acutely affected to start. Based upon what is determined from that study, Council will be in a better position to determine what additional actions may be appropriate and if similar drainage studies should be ordered for other parts of the city.
In other matters that came before the council,
· Approval was granted to an amended development agreement between the city and Brockdale Community LLC to fund future road improvements to Brockdale Park Road
· Approval was given to the City Manager regarding future water reconstruction projects that are contained in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan and that require the development of funding strategies.
· Lee Ford, a long-time Lucas resident who recently relocated, contributed a sizeable amount to help pay for another city ambulance and Peggy Rusterholtz, who materially contributes ways for the city to reduce expenses, were named as the recipients of the 2019 Service Tree Award.
· Periodically, Texas law requires cities to review and amend their Charters to ensure they remain in compliance with Texas law. City Attorney Joe Gorfida informed the Council that his review of the Charter did not disclose any need to amend the charter, but there were several minor housekeeping amendments that the Council might wish to consider at a subsequent meeting.
· Approved the voluntary annexation petition of Cary and Sharon Cobb for a tract of land located in the Montgomery Birch Survey known as 2020 East Lucas Road.
· Discussed future transportation projects, the 2018 Collin County Bond Program and Park and Open Space funding in preparation for a meeting with Collin County Commissioner Darrell Hale.
The next meeting of the Lucas City Council takes place at 7:00 pm on Thursday, February 21 at Town Hall.