Despite recent media reports portraying Lantana as a “lawless” community devoid of police protection, an official with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office said that they are still on the job patrolling the development.
“We have not stopped working traffic enforcement in Lantana,” said Sheriff’s Patrol Captain Mike Caley. “We are still doing the same thing we have always been doing.”
Questions regarding the sheriff’s department authority over traffic enforcement inside Lantana and other fresh water supply districts began cropping up last fall after Hugh Coleman, Denton County Commissioner Pct. 1, asked Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson to request an opinion from the Texas Attorney General to determine if a FWSD or the county itself has the authority to adopt traffic regulations on “non-county maintained public roads” in fresh water supply districts located in unincorporated areas of the county.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion on October 5, 2010 stating that fresh water supply districts as well as county commissioners have “no authority to post speed limits, provide restricted traffic areas for school zones, install traffic control devices, and impose parking restrictions on non-county maintained public roads in subdivisions located within a fresh water supply district in an unincorporated area of Denton County.”
A short time later, State Rep. Burt R. Solomons introduced House Bill 2541 to provide a solution that would clearly allow traffic enforcement to be carried out by the county sheriff inside a FWSD.
HB 2541, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on June 17 and takes effect immediately, requires residents living in a FWSD to file a petition with their county’s commissioner’s court requesting such services.
“HB 2541 represents an attempt to establish a process to give clear the authority to the county to enforce its traffic regulations to district roads. My concern is that the process set out in the bill may prove to be problematic,” said Clay Crawford, who serves as Legal Council for Lantana’s two Fresh Water Supply Districts.
The bill states that a petition must be signed by 50 percent of property owners and county commissioners may require FWSD residents to pay for all or a part of the costs of extending enforcement to the roads of the district.
As Lantana officials work with Crawford and Pct. 4 County Commissioner Andy Eads this summer to make sense of the new law and determine what actions need to be taken, one thing will remain the same, according to Captain Caley, “I consider this (HB 2451) as just a formality. We’re still on the job.”
Residents can contact the Lantana Fresh Water District at 940-728-5050 or County Commissioner Andy Eads at 940-349-2801 with questions or concerns regarding this issue.