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Lantana office building not a good idea

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My wife and I have been Lantana residents for 8 years, and we currently reside in the Heritage neighborhood.  I am writing to voice our opinion wholeheartedly AGAINST the idea of constructing a fresh water district office building on Lantana Trail on the proposed site near the Azalea neighborhood.

In addition to being a resident, I am a real estate agent with a primary focus on the Lantana market.  For several years I have been the highest volume agent in Lantana by a wide margin, so I do think that I have a pretty good handle on what is important to current and future residents.

Please consider these thoughts…

1)  One of the draws to Lantana, and a selling point I use frequently that gets attention, is that we have NO commercial-type buildings in Lantana outside of the Visitor Center, which is seen not as commercial but as a “welcome center”.  The only income-producing properties include the daycare, which is really nothing more than a school-type setting, and the golf club, which is the anchor of the community and a major draw.  Current and prospective residents like the idea that this is a place where we LIVE, not do business.

2)  The proposed building may not be all that visible to the Azalea residents, but it will be highly visible to the Heritage residents that back to Lantana Trail.  It’s tough enough to resell a home on the Trail, but those residents currently have the benefit of having a greenbelt and treed view across the street.  Putting in a building destroys that view and makes their homes (including mine) less marketable.

3)  As for greenbelt, is that area not a dedicated greenbelt area, which is what prospective buyers in this area have been told when they purchased?  If so, have you considered the impact of our governing body eliminating greenbelt for the purpose of commercial building construction?  Seems to go against what Lantana is all about.  And makes for pretty bad press.

4)  I am not concerned if the “staff” wants a location more central to the community (as reported in Lantana Links), rather than locate the building on 407 near the new water tower.  I’d estimate that 80% of the homes in Lantana would be SOUTH of this land, so why in the world would you drive that traffic NORTH instead of to where the traffic typically flows to exit the community?  That simply makes no sense, and it would NOT be easier or more convenient for residents.

5)  If part of the rationale is so that residents can have a drive-through to make paying easier, that can either be done at a different location, or I’d bet that I could get the Bartonville Town Center ownership to approve a drive-by mailbox located in the parking lot for the use of the water district.

6)  Before you spend $1.4 million, I’d strongly encourage you to ascertain whether or not the building is even needed.  Has the district completed a space optimization study for their current location?  Can you operate with cubicles instead of private offices?  Here’s the point….  The water districts are government entities, not private enterprise.  You need to be figuring out how to cut spending, not constructing buildings that simply aren’t needed.

7)  Perhaps you should be renegotiating your lease.  Bartonville Town Center hasn’t exactly exploded in the last ten years.  And they can’t expand as they have wanted to do unless their tenant base is more stable.  I think the district is in a good position to better their current terms.

8)  We have $500,000 in a surplus from last year.  So, our income is outpacing our expenses.  That’s awesome.  Rather than treat that money like the fat cow to spend, perhaps the district should be considering a per mill tax reduction.  Our total property tax rate in Lantana is NOT competitive with other nearby communities, and it is the MAJOR objection we have to improving our property values and getting homes purchased at a rate similar to Flower Mound and Highland Village.  We don’t yet know what the tax rates will be in two upcoming master-planned communities that will provide Lantana with significant competition, but we need to be cautious about being on the wrong end of that scale.

Please consider these thoughts as you debate the merits of this new building and its proposed locations.  One, don’t build it until it is advantageous to do so (and be ready to prove that).  Two, don’t build it on Lantana Trail.

Thank you for your time.  See you at the next district meeting.

Mark Barnes
Lantana, TX

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