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What’s Happening in Copper Canyon – March 2018

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Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml

INSIDE THIS COLUMN: Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation Town Hall Meeting and Upcoming Election; Republican and Democratic Primary Elections; Copper Canyon Council Election Cancelled; $5,000 in College Scholarships Available

NOTE:  CTWSC General Manager LLOYD HANSON critiqued the original March 2018 “What’s Happening in Copper Canyon.”  This version below welcomes the corrections and detailed clarifications he proposed for the section on water issues. However, I continue to propose that the current Cross Timbers WSC Board adopt a more transparent and neutral voting procedure for contested Board elections.

Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation invited to February Copper Canyon Council Meeting for an Update on operations, and proceedings for NINE years including TWO remaining Lawsuits over proposed Second Elevated Water Storage Tank

CTWSC President Patrick McDonald presented the Council with an update on the proceedings which began nine years ago to erect the elevated tank.  The Corporation began the process of requesting a permit from the Town of Bartonville in February 2010.  After multiple attempts with all the parties to resolve the issue, multiple litigation was filed by various parties in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017.

Lawsuit OneAn initial lawsuit was filed by the then named Bartonville WSC against the Town of Bartonville to allow a previously planned ground storage water tank to become an elevated water storage tank.  Nearby homeowners in Bartonville objected to the view of an elevated tank, though the closest anyone’s house was to the planned elevated water tank was over 1,000 feet. The 393rd District Court in Denton found in favor of the water corporation.  The court also issued a building permit for the construction of the elevated water tank and construction began in 2012. The town of Bartonville and homeowners appealed.  The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth sent the case back to the District Court for reconsideration.  In 2013 the 393rd District Court in Denton ruled that construction on the elevated tank cease until litigation was complete.

Eventually, the water district and the Town of Bartonville settled their litigation, which included BWSC paying $300,000 to the Town and agreeing to extend certain water lines within the Town.  Plaintiff homeowner Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Corporation and current US Secretary of State, also withdrew from the suit.  All the original parties dropped their original claims and re-filed the same litigation asserting other claims.  This litigation went to trial in 2015 and then went back to the appellate court in Fort Worth, which heard the remaining parties in April 2017.  The Appellate Court has yet to rule.

The water district paid $200,000 cash into the Court’s registry to cover the cost of removing the already erected pedestal on the site and the water storage tank bowl still resting at ground level.  (I didn’t clarify whether the court in Lawsuit One or court in Lawsuit Two is holding the $200,000.)

Lawsuit Two:  The now re-named Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation used eminent domain to condemn certain “restrictions” that the Saddlebrook Estates Homeowners Association allege remain on the property Cross Timbers purchased from them in 2001.  (This is the site of the partially erected elevated tank.) The HOA and 26 of 77 Saddlebrook homeowners protested the condemnation of the restrictions.  The case was heard by appointed condemnation Special Commissioners in Denton.  The Commissioners awarded the HOA and the homeowners in the condemnation suit a total dollar amount to be split among them.

However, the HOA and homeowners’ legal fees to a father and son attorney team representing the HOA and homeowners would probably far exceed that amount, unless the case was undertaken on a contingency legal fee basis.)  The Saddlebrook Estates Homeowners Association and the 26 Saddlebrook homeowners have asked for a jury trial in August of this year to contest the amount of the condemnation Award of the Special Commissioners.  (No other Bartonville homeowners are involved.)

Capital Improvements are restricted due to the legal costs of the Lawsuits.

General Manager Lloyd Hanson also said CTWSC had spent $1.6 million on total capital improvements in the last 3 years – or approximately $530,000 per year.  President McDonald said the proposed capital improvements in Copper Canyon were replacing 2” water lines on Mobile Drive, Blackjack Lane and the east end of Orchid Hill with 6” lines – but these capital improvements would not be completed until the lawsuits were settled.  [General Manager Lloyd Hanson said Cross Timbers does not install any water lines smaller than 6”, as smaller lines will not support fire protection demands.]

All legal costs of the lawsuits are funded by the water fees paid by all CTWSC Members.  President McDonald told me that, while the lawsuits were still pending, he could not reveal the total legal costs CTWSC had already paid.

But, he said it was “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

[NOTE:  This is a simplified summary of the status of the TWO current lawsuits concerning the proposed second elevated water storage tank.]

Cross Timbers Water Board alerts Council to Inadequate Elevated Water Storage for “Fire Suppression” without a Second Elevated Tank at the West End of its CCN – a possibly serious current fire risk for all Water Members’ Homes and Businesses!

CTWSC President Patrick McDonald told our City Council that the Water Corporation was regularly having to dip into their “fire suppression reserve” in its one elevated water storage tank in Double Oak.  This was due to increased normal water usage by members in recent summer droughts and the limited water capacity of only one tank.  And, two more years of summer droughts are forecasted.  McDonald presented the Council with graphics to illustrate his points.  He said CTWSC is currently using water pumped from underground reservoirs and has plenty of water for members’ normal use.  But “fire suppression” requires pressure from elevated tanks to be effective.

[General Manager Lloyd Hanson said 6 CTWSC wells extend into the Trinity reservoir and only one additional well into the much smaller Paluxy reservoir.  In addition, CTWSC has a contract with Upper Trinity Regional Water District to purchase up to 2,500,000 gallons of water per day.  CTWSC uses the Upper Trinity’s treated Lewisville Lake water, when member water demands require supplementing CTWSC’s well water.  This usually occurs during drought or during members’ additional summer demands for water for pools, lawns, and landscaping.]

President McDonald said the CTWSC Board had considered alternate sites for a second elevated tank at the western end of its district, but those sites were even more visually intrusive on existing homeowners.

Inadequate pressure for fire suppression means every CTWSC member’s home and business could be at risk!  This is a HUGE new safety issue for all current water members!

Cross Timbers WSC asks “civic leaders” to sign a Half Page Letter Requesting the Lawsuit Parties to Settle without Blame on either Side.

Council Member Valerie Cannaday said she could not sign anything without hearing the Saddlebrook home owners’ version of the two lawsuits.  I agree with her request to hear both sides, and the full Copper Canyon Council appeared to agree that night

Our Town Administrator Donna Welsh has a lovely home in Saddlebrook subdivision in Bartonville.  (Tall rearing horse statutes are on either side of the entrance to Saddlebrook on FM 407.)  But Donna opted out of being a plaintiff in the lawsuits against CTWSC.

Sunday March 4th 4-5 pm TOWN HALL MEETING on Cross Timbers Water issues at Crossroads Bible Church in Double Oak(Southwest corner of FM 407 and Chinn Chapel Road.)

Copper Canyon is inviting representatives of the homeowner plaintiffs and representatives of the Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation board to a Town Hall meeting.  All Copper Canyon water members are encouraged to attend, but all CTWSC members are also welcome to attend!

Who are Members of the Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation?

In April 2013 then General Manager Jim Leggieri said there were a total of 2,145 water connections.  Current General Manager Lloyd Hanson kindly provided the number of water members per town and unincorporated areas now.  At the end of 2017 there were 2,335 water member connections or an approximately 8.9% increase of water connections in the past 5 years.

1,011 – Double Oak

498 – Copper Canyon

363 –  Bartonville

158 – Canyon Oaks

140 –  Unincorporated areas

143 –  Flower Mound

22 –  Highland Village (the north end of FM 2499 near Pilot Knoll Park)

Not having new Water Hydrants is severely restricting New Construction

For some time CTWSC has not allowed any new fire hydrants to be installed or connected to its water lines.  This is severely limiting any landowners in CTWSC territory from building individual homes and businesses (approved on an ad hoc basis by CTWSC).  Developers who are proposing even small residential subdivisions are deterred by the lack of usual fire protection.  Homeowners insurance without adequate fire protection is either very expensive or not even attainable.

General Manager Lloyd Hanson said “Water supply Corporations like Cross Timbers WSC are not obligated to supply water capacity for fire-fighting purposes under the Texas Water Code.  HOWEVER, Cross Timbers WSC has provided water-capacity for fire-fighting purposes since 1987 and wants to continue to do so.  Until a second elevated water tank is completed, our facilities are inadequate to ensure that can occur.”

Three of the Seven CTWSC Board Positions will be elected in April

Applications to be a candidate for a board position are now available on the Cross Timbers website with instructions on how to apply. www.crosstimberswater.com.  The term is for 3 years and board positions are not compensated in any way.  Applications are due before noon on Thursday March 15, 2018 at the CTWSC office 2032 East Hickory Hill Road, Argyle, TX 76226. Each application requires original endorsing signatures of 21 or more CTWSC members.  If husband and wife (or other adults) reside at the same residence, only one signature will count as an endorsement. Winners will be announced in April at the CTWSC’s annual meeting.

All Legitimate Elections have Sealed Ballots mailed DIRECTLY to a Neutral Third Party, who Opens and Counts them.

Our County Judge MARY HORN has Volunteered as a community service to have the CTWSC Ballots for Board Members mailed DIRECTLY to her office.  She welcomes anyone who would like to Witness the Ballots Opened and Counted!

[NOTE:  However, General Manager Lloyd Hanson has said that an unidentified Election Auditor has already been appointed and any ballots mailed to Judge Horn’s office will be invalidated.   CTWSC will issue contested election instructions that must be complied with for the ballot to be valid.]

Argyle Water Supply Corporation, which also operates under the state Water Code like Cross Timbers WSC, has an election procedure for its Board Members that ensures transparency and neutrality.  Its Election Auditor opens a PO Box at the Argyle Post Office, for which only the Election Auditor has a key. Ballots for Board Members are mailed directly to the locked PO Box.  At the appointed time, the Election Auditor removes the sealed ballots from the PO Box and delivers them to the Counters. The appointed Counters of the ballots are instructed not to count any ballot in an envelope that is unsealed or appears to have any tampering.  The Counters also verify that the voter is a current Argyle WSC member.

In contrast, Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation passed bylaws that authorize ballots for its board members in a contested election mailed directly to its headquarters; and then CTWSC has in past contested elections delivered the already opened and unsealed ballots to its appointed Election Auditor to count.  The Election Auditor for past contested CTWSC Board elections recently said that if appointed again, he would no longer receive unsealed ballots to count.

[NOTE:  He was NOT asked to serve as an Election Auditor for this board election.  Manager Hanson said a new Election Auditor has already been selected, but he declined to identify the Auditor.  Manager Hanson did say that ballots for board members would continue to be mailed directly to CTWSC headquarters.

Imagine the uproar if contested Republican and Democratic primaries or local school board elections were handled with this lack of transparency and simple safeguards for neutrality!]

The current four Cross Timbers WSC Board Members NOT up for re-election could change the election Bylaws for board members to be more transparent.  (Board Members Susan Crawford (8 years) and Garry W. Granger (4 years) of Double Oak, Mike Paulson of Copper Canyon (20 years), and Larry Kaufman of Canyon Oaks (25 years).)  However, the current two Board Members up for re-election, Patrick McDonald of Bartonville (14 years) and Robert Stegmaier of Copper Canyon (6 years), should recuse themselves from that Board vote due to an obvious “conflict of interest.”  One of the seven Board positions is currently vacant and up for election.

Republican and Democratic Primary Elections

Republican and Democratic Primary Elections are both Tuesday March 6th,

7 am to 7 pm.  Double Oak Town Hall is the closest polling place for Copper Canyon voters, but only on Election Day March 6th.

Copper Canyon has two voting precincts.  The north and west part of Town is Precinct 4019.  The south and east part of town is Precinct 4020.  You can find your precinct number by your name and birthdate or Voter Registration Identity Number on www.voteDenton.com.  You can present your Voter Registration or a valid current driver’s license to vote.

Two Denton County races will directly affect Copper Canyon residents.

County Judge of the Denton County Commissioners Court:

The County Judge is the presiding officer of the Denton County Commissioners Court.  The Judge is not required to be an attorney, and the Commissioners Court is an administrative body, not a judicial one.  The Commissioners Court consists of five voting members.  The County Judge is elected by all of Denton County voters.  The four County Commissioners each represent one of the four geographical precincts in Denton County.  Each County Commissioner is elected by only the voters in their respective Precinct – #1, #2, #3, or #4.

Precinct #4 is the western part of Denton County – from FM 2499 west across Interstate I-35W and including all the town of Northlake, which is 40 square miles.  (By comparison, Copper Canyon is 4 square miles or the size of the town of Trophy Club.)

The following municipalities are in Denton County Precinct #4:  Argyle, Bartonville, Copper Canyon, western Denton, Dish, Double Oak, Draper, western Flower Mound, Justin, Krum, Northlake, Ponder, Roanoke, Trophy Club, and the Denton County part of Haslett, Southlake, and Westlake.  Also included from the unincorporated area of Denton County are Lantana’s Fresh Water Supply Districts #6 and #7 and Canyon Oaks Subdivision.

Republican:  Andy Eads, our current Denton County Precinct #4 Commissioner, is the only Republican in the race for County Judge. Eads lives in Flower Mound and has served as County Commissioner of Precinct #4 for three terms or for the past 12 years.  He will face the winner of the March 6th Democratic primary in the November 6th General Election

Democrat: Willie Hudspeth, Diana Leggett, both residents of Denton

Candidates for County Commissioner of Precinct #4:

Republican:

#1 – Jim Carter, resident of Bartonville

#2 – Itamar Gelbman, resident of Flower Mound

#3 – Brenda Latham, resident of Bartonville

#4 – Dianne Edmondson, resident of Robson Ranch

Democrat:  Brian Webb, resident of Flower Mound

If no candidate receives over 50 per cent of the vote in the political party primaries, the two candidates with the highest votes will have a run-off election on Tuesday May 22nd.

All of our 5 Council Members – Jeff Mangum, Steve Hill, Dave Svatik, Valerie Cannaday, Bill Castleman – and myself are individually endorsing our current Precinct 4 County Commissioner for County Judge – Andy Eads – and also individually endorsing our former Precinct 4 County Commissioner for our Commissioner again – Jim Carter.

 Eads to Carter is a “seamless transition”.  Both men are incredibly experienced and know how to “get things done!”  A proven record of leadership! Carter’s three opponents are “well meaning”, but totally unqualified!  This is no time for “on the job training” for political aspirants!

The Three Incumbent Copper Canyon Council Members are Unopposed, so the May Town Election is Cancelled saving $4,000 in Election Expenses.

$5,000 in College Scholarships – Applications available now at Town Hall for Town Seniors.  Please help us identify all graduating Seniors to Invite to Senior Celebration Event 6-7 PM before May 14th Council Meeting.

High schools are understandably legally reluctant to release the names of graduating seniors and their home addresses for security and privacy reasons.  So, out Town relies heavily on our residents to tell Town Hall who our graduating seniors are.  Donations also provide a $100 scholarship to each graduating senior who doesn’t apply for a competitive Copper Canyon college scholarship.

Seniors eligible for college scholarships may come from public or private high schools or be home schooled.  They are required to live in Copper Canyon, be graduating this Spring, and already be accepted to a university, junior college or technical or trade school.  Scholarship funds are sent directly to the institution of higher learning for the awarded student’s tuition expenses.

If you know of a town senior graduating, please call Town Secretary Sheila Morales at 940-241-2677 Ext #2.

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About The Author

Sue Tejml is mayor of Copper Canyon, TX.

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