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What’s Happening in Copper Canyon – January 2019

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Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml

Andy Eads received a standing ovation from a packed house of Copper Canyon Residents for his 12 years of Visionary Service as our Denton County Commissioner for Precinct 4!

Our Council Chambers were packed with Town residents at our Council Meeting the night of December 10th. And Commissioner Eads received a standing ovation for his 12 years of visionary service as our Denton County Precinct 4 Commissioner. And, he recently was unopposed for our County Judge in the Republican Primary – a rare occasion in a political party. And, he was elected County Judge in the General Election by an overwhelming popular vote!

Years ago Commissioner Eads realized that Copper Canyon was the logical “cut through” town for commuters traveling north and south from Denton to the DFW Metroplex. North Denton County residents traveled south to employment in DFW and to DFW International Airport. Southern Denton County residents traveled north to both employment and the two major universities in Denton – UNT and TWU. Copper Canyon was also the west to east “cut through” for commuters traveling to and from Lantana to FM 2499 and Highland Village.

But with a minute population of approximately 500 homes on multi-acre lots and a residential tax base with no substantial retail/commercial sales taxes, Copper Canyon could not fund building the necessary concrete roads to withstand steady “commuter traffic.” (This was years prior to the completion of the FM 2499 north extension.) Copper Canyon also wanted to become a Railroad Quiet Zone, but we first had FOUR railroad crossings to address. And, the special concrete road dividers and heavy-duty crossing arms required for a Quiet Zone Railroad Crossing were very expensive to install.

Thus was formed the mutually beneficial decade-long alliance between small town “commuter thruway” Copper Canyon and transportation visionary Precinct 4 Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads.

The Town also Genuinely Thanked Commissioner Eads for the County’s recent $3 Million Dollar funding to complete “commuter” Chinn Chapel Road Phase III to the Orchid Hill Roundabout.

Commissioner Eads has seen the completion of Copper Canyon’s perimeter commuter roads rebuilt in concrete: Copper Canyon Road, Orchid Hill Lane, FM 407, and now the completion of Chinn Chapel Road. Chinn Chapel Road Phase III. will be rebuilt in concrete from north of the RR tracks to the Orchid Hill Roundabout at a County-funded cost of approximately $3,000,000. The Denton County Commissioners Court passed the ICA (Interlocal Cooperation Agreement) at its December 11th Meeting.

At Commissioner Eads’ Christmas luncheon, I asked John Polster when Copper Canyon could start on Chinn Chapel Road Phase III? (Polster coordinates all the road building and County funding in our Denton County Precinct 4.) I told him that our Halff engineer Brian Haynes and Halff’s consultant Jim Carter (our former Precinct 4 County Commissioner) would be in charge of completing the project. Polster said both Halff and Carter are “road pros,” so issue the necessary contracts right away and forward the bills to the County as they need paid. Halff has completed most of the engineering, so hopefully Chinn Chapel Road Phase III can be completed as early as this spring.

Council and P&Z overwhelmingly approve 225 lots for Toll Brothers proposed Vickery Park at the December 10th Joint Meeting. Council Member Steve Hill’s 20-year future Pro Forma Budget Financial Forecast is Decisive!

At the November Joint Council and P&Z Meeting, P&Z Commissioners wisely voted to delay their vote a month until the December 10th Joint Meeting. The Commissioners wanted to give longtime Financial Advisor and Council Member Steve Hill the extra time to complete his updated 20 Year future Pro Forma Budget Financial Forecast.

With the help of Town Administrator Donna Welsh and Town Secretary Sheila Morales and Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Mangum, Steve went over every line item of Town income and every line item of Town expenses. Each line item had a percentage annual budget increase or decrease. Our two largest expenses are always our roads and our law enforcement deputies.

Our Halff engineer for the last decade, Brian Haynes, estimated the increased cost of asphalt and concrete and construction costs for our roads. (These road costs have increased dramatically due to the booming DFW Metroplex and the critical shortage of construction workers.) The interior residential roads that will need rebuilt in a few years are East Jernigan, Jernigan Road, and Waite Drive. Fortunately, these are not heavily traveled roads. Rolling Acres also carries a lot of residential traffic and it will need rebuilt in the future. Estates Drive, Pilot and Knoll look great with the recent asphalt resurface. But at some time in the future, they will also need rebuilt.

Donna was also able to get an estimate from the Sheriff’s Office for adding a third Deputy and patrol car and possibly a fourth Deputy and patrol car once Vickery Park was completely occupied.

Denton CAD provided data on over $56,000 of five-year agricultural rollback taxes to Copper Canyon from the once sold 85-acre Vickery Farm. Property taxes to Copper Canyon on the once “developed lots” (formerly agricultural valued land) was also substantial. And, in about 6-7 years, property taxes on the 225 maximum new homes in Vickery Park would exceed over $500,000. This figure is about double what our current property taxes on homes provide.

All of this data was provided to Copper Canyon residents on the Town’s website when the P&Z Commissioners and Town Council Members received it. However, the numbers are so tiny. I had our Town Secretary print out 11” by 17” pages of the 18-page Pro Forma Budget at Town Hall for both the Council Meeting and anyone who wanted a “readable” copy. Otherwise, you’ll need a substantial magnifying glass to read the Pro Forma numbers. But, that is certainly doable.

Owners of large tracts of open land in Copper Canyon do not seem eager to sell their land. In the North Town Center on the north side of FM 407, three family   owners of a total of approximately 44 acres have had their land “kind of “ for sale.

The family owners of approximately the remainder 56 acres in the North Town Center, to my knowledge, have not had their land actively for sale. This 100 acres in the North Town Center, north of FM 407, is the only other land eligible to use wastewater from the Flower Mound contract with Copper Canyon.

Some open acreage along Copper Canyon Road has never been for sale, some has been for sale, and some acreage removed from sale. There are two separately owned tracts north of the North Town Center and east adjoining Copper Canyon Road that have never been actively for sale, to my knowledge. Kaki Lybbert’s brother and his children now have 30 acres for sale in one-acre residential tracts east off of Copper Canyon Road opposite Canyon Oaks. Kaki has said that she and her children, Chase Lybbert and Katie Lybbert, presently intend to keep the remaining 130 acres of her Dad Boots Roberts’ original ranch as home sites and cattle land.

The old Camp Summit acreage east off of Copper Canyon Road is now 42 three-quarter acre home sites in the new Copper Creek residential development. By lawsuit, these homes must be a minimum of 3500 square feet and sprinklered. This area on the west side of Copper Canyon Road also adjoins 62 acres in Copper Canyon’s ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction.) and east of Lantana. Per the lawsuit, the landowners will in the future petition to have that land annexed by Copper Canyon and develop 62 three-quarter acre residential lots with a minimum of 3500 square-foot sprinklered homes. The 62 acres are heavily wooded and will make beautiful home sites. The lawsuit also requires the landowners to have no means for traffic from Lantana to cut through the Copper Creek subdivision to Copper Canyon Road.

Janet Aune’s 65 acres have been on the market – and are now off the market. Janet’s son Mark Aune and wife Alma from Arlington have moved in to help Janet with her broken arm. Mark and Alma are most welcome to Copper Canyon!

Two large acreage tracts north of Orchid Hill, on the west and east end, have been “kind of “ for sale – but not actively to my knowledge.

Steve Hill’s conclusion was that without the Toll Brothers Vickery Park development, Copper Canyon’s homeowners’ property taxes would have to be substantially increased in the next 10 years. The other “open acreage” was not reliably for sale for residential development.

Copper Canyon’s P&Z and Council have always tried to plan long term – 20 years out. And, we have always tried to plan financially conservatively. The numbers in this financial forecast were decisive. P&Z Commissioners voted 4-1 to recommend Toll Brothers 225 lot maximum Vickery Park Development. The Council voted 5-0 to accept the P&Z recommendation.

[The history of Toll Brothers presentations from 291 lots down to 225 lots, and Council and P&Z’s responses, are in prior “What’s Happening” articles. The articles are in the Mayor’s Corner on the Copper Canyon website if you would like to bring yourself up-to-date.]

What Configuration of Residential Homes do Buyers Want?

Toll Brothers DFW President Rob Paul and I have had some interesting discussions since the P&Z and Council’s vote. I respect the depth and quality of Toll Brothers marketing expertise. Toll Brothers wants to market to two distinctively different homeowners in Vickery Park south of FM 407.

West Side: One market is to the west side of the natural north to south forest band of mature trees. This smaller west side would have had a majority of 88 lots as designed – each lot 86’ wide and 145’ deep. However, eliminating every 6th lot and widening that 86’ width over the remaining five lots to 100’ width each would result in a third net acre lot. That is the minimum lot size the Council originally designated and more Copper Canyon residents seem willing to accept in the South Town Center facing FM 407. (A 100’ wide lot by the already designed 145’ deep lot is a 14,500 sq. ft. lot or a net one-third acre lot.) This increase in lot size on the West Side would take a minimal adjustment in the street layout, green belt on FM 407, central grove of natural trees, two retention ponds for fire suppression, and two grassy depressed drainage areas to prevent storm water runoff onto Double Oak. The reduction of 15 lots, from 88 to 73 lots on the West Side, would reduce Vickery Park to a total of 225 lots. (I suggested Toll Brothers consider this for the West Side, but I do not know if they did.)

East Side: But reducing the larger East Side of 152 much smaller lots would take a major redesign by Toll Brothers of lots, green space, drainage retention areas, and roads. (These lots were only 72’ wide by 120’ deep. The 8,640 square foot lots were planned to accommodate almost five homes-garages-driveways on the equivalent of a one-acre residential lot in Copper Canyon.) This challenging redesign was far beyond my amateur ability to suggest! And, it would require a further major reduction of 27 lots of the originally planned 152 lots on the East Side to reach the Council’s designated maximum of 198 lots total for Vickery Park.

Second Master Suite Downstairs: After the Council’s vote, one of the target homeowner markets that Rob Paul and I discussed for the West Side, was the desirability of a Second Master Suite Downstairs. The suite usually consists of a living-dining area with kitchenette, a separate bedroom with private bath, walk-in closets, and an entrance into the rest of the home downstairs plus possibly a separate outside entrance. There is also usually a garage space designated for this Second Suite. Kaki Lybbert, longtime Copper Canyon resident and outgoing President of the Texas Realtors Association, also said the Second Downstairs Master Suite is a very desirable homeowner market. This second suite is useful in several family situations.

  • An Adult Senior Parent or Parents: A separate home for senior parents can be very expensive with a mortgage, property taxes, and house and yard maintenance. However, moving one or both parents into a senior living center can cost thousands of dollars each month. And, it may also seriously restrict their individual independence and living space.
  • An Adult Child Moves Back Home: This usually happens in three distinct situations.
  • An adult child has completed basic college or the military and wants to minimize housing expenses to financially save for a future college or graduate achievement, or a family and home of their own.
  • An adult child has divorced and needs to minimize housing expenses and may even also have a small child to provide a home for.
  • An adult child is willing to move home to help take care of an ailing parent.
  • The Homeowners have Family Visiting from Another Country: This often happens with I.T. technical experts, university Ph.D. engineers and graduates, and medical experts and physicians. The visitors may be parents, children, brothers and sisters, even grandparents. They do not visit for just 10 days or two weeks – because the journey may be long, arduous, expensive, and across continents and/or oceans. Some come for medical treatments they cannot get in their home country. They come for two to four months, usually on visas. (These are not illegal immigrants. They are visiting the United States legally and pay their own way financially and medically.)

Desiring a Large Modern Home, but Minimal Yard to Maintain:

Rob Paul said a different target market for the East Side smaller lots was the homeowner who wants a large home with the latest amenities – but does NOT want to also maintain a large yard. Often both homeowners are working or have careers and time for extensive yardwork is not an option or they prefer to spend their money on other priorities. If this homeowner has children, they prefer to walk on community trails and play with their children in neighborhood parks instead of their own backyards. But they also want quality schools nearby. And Lewisville ISD and private schools provide that for Vickery Park.

Town to pay $7,900 to replace Destroyed Barricade on east side of Chinn Chapel & Woodlands Drive Intersection.

On Wednesday night November 22nd or early Thanksgiving morning Thursday November 23rd, a vehicle ran from Woodlands Drive (no brake marks), across Chinn Chapel Road, and destroyed the barricade on the east side of Chinn Chapel Road. The vehicle literally had the tonnage and speed to break off multiple 6” diameter posts buried deep in the ground and tear off the attached heavy-duty metal barricade railings. Thank goodness for the heavy-duty metal barricade or the vehicle might have flipped over in the steep ditch the barricade was protecting or been cut in two by the mature trees the barricade was in front of.

No one in their right-mind would run this intersection at that speed on purpose. The possible physical damage to passengers and/or the vehicle should be a sufficient deterrent. We don’t know if the driver was impaired or distracted. But, the vehicle with damaged oil pan drove back west on Woodlands Drive. And someone had the presence of mind to call Denton County’s Road and Bridge West and tell them of the damage to the road barrier on the east side of Chinn Chapel Road. Copper Canyon’s Deputy Sheriff alerted local body shops to report any similar vehicle damage and alerted local hospitals to report anyone injured in such a vehicle accident.

If the driver, or vehicle owner, who caused such an accident has insurance, the insurance will pay to repair the restraining wall. That is probably fairer than asking Copper Canyon homeowners to share paying the $7,900 from general property taxes. There is a $500 reward for information leading to the driver or owner of the vehicle in the accident that results in insurance or personal payment for the Town’s expense of $7,900 in repairing the damage to the restraining wall. The Town will not publicize the reporter’s name and is not interested in publicizing the name of the vehicle’s owner and/or driver. The reporter or vehicle’s owner or driver may call Town Administrator Donna Welsh at 940-241-2677 Ext 3 or Mayor Sue Tejml on her cell at 940-368-1085.

Copper Canyon Welcomes New Municipal Court Judge Kyle Knapp

In December the Council interviewed Judge Knapp in Executive Session and unanimously recommended him in Open Session to be Copper Canyon Municipal Court’s new Judge. Judge Knapp came so highly recommended for his legal knowledge and experience, his commanding presence, and his genuinely kind demeanor. This is a unique but highly desirable combination in a Judge. Traffic violators in front of Judge Knapp usually come away with the feeling that they have been “heard” and treated fairly.

Judge Knapp has also been the Municipal Court Judge for 3 years in nearby Hickory Creek, a town of 4,430 population with many traffic citations from I-35E. So, I called John Smith, their current Town Administrator and former Mayor, and asked him if he would recommend Judge Knapp. Smith said he sat in on each twice a month Municipal Court Session in Hickory Creek and could not be more pleased with Judge Knapp’s demeanor, his legal knowledge, and his fairness.

One of the most valuable things I learned fourteen years ago when I quite unexpectedly became Mayor of Copper Canyon, was the most valuable thing I could bring to our small town was a close network with the Mayors and Police Chiefs of surrounding towns and with our Denton County Commissioners Court. My mother would have called it “getting along kindly with your friends and playmates in the sandbox.” That attitude also gets you “honest answers” when you inquire in the “political sandbox.” I totally trusted the recommendation of former Mayor and now Town Administrator John Smith.

Judge Knapp was also highly recommended by the Municipal Clerks who already work under his supervision. Debbi Kutujma was a Municipal Court Clerk for the City of Lewisville for 16 years. Currently, she prefers her part time employment two days Monday and Tuesday for Hickory Creek, her treasured Wednesdays off, and two days Thursday and Friday for Copper Canyon. Debbi said, “I work the Window for Municipal Court traffic violation payments in Hickory Creek. People who come from Judge Knapp’s court to pay fines come with a smile! That is so rare in my many years of Municipal Court experience!”

Ann Horner, who lives in Copper Canyon in the Woodlands, shares this Municipal Court Clerk job with Debbi in Copper Canyon. Ann works Monday through Wednesday. During her first day in court with Judge Knapp, she was so smiling and so relaxed. Ann said, “Judge Knapp is so clear in his instructions and so easy to work with!” For 6 years I was a former Municipal Court Prosecutor, Police Advisor, and City Attorney for a Texas town of 18-20,000 population. I also sincerely appreciated Judge Knapp’s calm demeanor, his ability to genuinely “listen” to those before his court, and his sense of “fairness” given each case’s individual circumstances. Each traffic case is NOT identical.

It is the rare executive and Judge who comes highly recommended by both his employers and those who work under his authority. And, if you wonder at the repeated reference to his “presence,” Judge Knapp is 6’5” tall – and not remotely overweight! But Judge Knapp’s pleasantness moderates his imposing physical presence. However, don’t ever believe you can manipulate that pleasant demeanor to unjustified ends. This man is no fool! Judge Knapp, our sincerest welcome to Copper Canyon! Please help us keep the peace and the safety of our residents and all who are traveling through our small town.

Developer John Delin’s “Grand Opening of Ladera” is a Huge Success!

Ladera is the new “over-55 age-restricted” active community in Highland Village with its entrance on Chinn Chapel Road at Copper Canyon’s East Jernigan intersection. If you drive Chinn Chapel at night, you have probably noticed all the Christmas lights twinkling in the huge oaks at the entrance of Ladera – and outlining the roof of the 3200-square-foot Activity Center nicknamed “The Hub.”

Due to the cool temperatures, developer John Delin (Duh LEAN) arranged for valet parking for guests at the Grand Opening in December. And, he had the Dallas franchise of “Cousin’s Lobster Truck” serve warm lobster in a variety of delicious ways – on hot freshly grilled cheese sandwiches, on tater tots, and mounded warm lobster on hot split Connecticut bread rolls! All accompanied by your choice of wine, hot rum cider, coffee, or hot chocolate! It was quite a festive and well attended event!

The Activity Center has a generous full kitchen and serving counter bar open to a large event room with both a large TV viewing screen and a cozy fireplace conversational area. There is also a workout room with the latest exercise equipment – treadmills, ellipticals, barbells, etc. – and small private rooms for intimate bridge or birthday parties. The outdoor pool is beautiful and surrounded by several covered arbors for outdoor dining and a fire pit for sitting around and visiting under the stars overhead. And, there is a golf putting green and a pickleball court for competitive fun! Concrete sidewalks surround a large lake for meandering walks and natural hiking trails wander through heavily-treed wooded and grassy areas nearby.

Of the 102 residential lots in Ladera on Chinn Chapel Road, 56 are sold. Owners have already moved into five homes and Delin expects to complete 50 to 60 more homes in 2019. The smallest home is one story with 1519 air-conditioned square feet containing 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, living area with fireplace, dining room, bonus room, extensive modern kitchen with walk-in pantry and a utility area. (There is even a tiled waist high bathing area for a fair-sized dog, with bronze dog tails extending from the nearby wall to handily hold puppy towels and leashes.)

The home also includes a 2-car garage with extra ground level storage and attic area. (Developer Delin realizes it is hard to downsize from a lifelong home, and there are sentimental keepsakes a family may want to retain if there are convenient storage areas.) There is also a covered patio with an outdoor gas fire place.

The largest home is a two-story air-conditioned space of 3400 square feet with three bedrooms plus a study, three and a half baths, and a two car garage also with extra storage area.

Developer John Delin has certainly perfected his residential community for over-age-55 active seniors. The “Ladera” in Keller is completely sold out; the 186-lot development in booming Mansfield (south of DFW airport and Six Flags) is two-thirds sold out; Fort Worth has a 186-lot development; and Rockwall has a 122-lot development. Delin is also developing 35 two to three-story Brownstones in downtown Roanoke with 1400 to 3200 air-conditioned square feet, a two-car garage, and optional in-home elevator. For details of Ladera homes, go to www.laderatexas.com.

So congratulations to John Delin, (one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet), his beautiful and gracious wife Diana Delin, son Ryan Delin and beautiful new bride Caroline Delin, son Bryce Delin and wife Laura Delin, brother Steve Delin, and Integrity Group financial partners James Works and Kevin Simonin. Working together, they have made “Ladera” a very successful over-55 active senior residential franchise!

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About The Author

Sue Tejml is mayor of Copper Canyon, TX.

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