Traffic tickets in Lantana finally have some teeth.
The Denton County Commissioners Court Tuesday accepted a first-of-its-kind petition submitted by Lantana leaders that restores the ability of the sheriff’s office to write traffic citations in the community that will hold up in court.
The order was signed by Denton County Judge Mary Horn during the meeting and went into effect immediately.
Ross Ferguson, president of Fresh Water Supply District #6, headed up the campaign to collect signatures from homeowners in Lantana’s two fresh water supply districts.
Between December and March, a handful of residents, including some of Lantana’s water districts’ board members, went door to door and manned signing tables at the amenity center to get the number of signatures needed to fulfill new state legislation addressing traffic enforcement in special districts.
“I think it is a big step forward, a big accomplishment for us and it shows that Lantana is a progressive community. We’re the first in the state to do this,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson said he worked closely with Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads during the process to shepherd the petition to commissioners court.
“This an example of how the county can partner with state and local officials to solve problems and find remedies for the good of citizens,” said Eads.
The petition drive was organized after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a ruling in fall 2010 that Lantana and other fresh water supply districts did not have the authority to adopt and enforce traffic regulations on the streets inside their communities.
The ruling effectively prevented the Denton County Sheriff’s Office from issuing traffic citations.
In response, Texas legislators passed a law last spring to provide a solution that would allow traffic enforcement to once again be allowed inside districts.
House Bill 2541, which was signed by Governor Rick Perry on June 17, 2011, authorizes residents in a FWSD to file a petition with their county’s commissioners court requesting traffic enforcement to resume in their community.
“The bill basically says that it extends the traffic regulation authority that the county currently has over into a fresh water supply district. Any offense that occurs in that fresh water district will be prosecuted within a judicial court of the county,” explained Denton County Commissioner Ron Marchant.
At least 50 percent of property owners in a FWSD have to sign the petition in order for it to be presented to commissioners for consideration.
In all, around 2,000 Lantana residents signed the petition, Ferguson said.
“I think this is a tremendous example of the citizens taking control of their own destiny finding an issue that was left out of the original legislation forming these districts that wasn’t considered and obviously came up as the population increased,” said Denton County Sheriff Benny Parkey.
There will be no additional charge to Lantana residents for the sheriff’s department’s traffic enforcement services.
The petition only addresses current roads in Lantana, so residents in future neighborhoods will have to sign a petition asking the county to enforce traffic laws on the specific streets in their subdivision.
Pictured above (back row from left): Lantana FWSD #6 board members Max Miller and Ross Ferguson, Kevin Mercer, Lantana General Manager. Front row from left: Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads, Denton County Judge Mary Horn, Denton County Sheriff Benny Parkey.