It was standing room only at the Anna City Hall at the regular city council meeting Tuesday night. Most residents were there for one single agenda item — the negotiations and, if necessary, proceedings for an eminent domain to acquire an easement on James Luscombe Jr. and his wife Robyn’s property. Eminent domain is the right of a government or its agent to acquire private property for public use, with payment of compensation.
The city council members said the reason for purchasing the easement is to add a new water line and ultimately loop it back to the north side of the neighborhood. Currently, Pecan Grove neighborhood’s water supply is fed through one 12-inch pipe. If anything happens to the pipe to the north of the neighborhood, every household loses its water. The goal of the loop is to have another feed to the neighborhood to stop any potential loss of water.
The city council allowed Anna residents, specifically those residing in Pecan Grove, three minutes each to address the council on their thoughts on the agenda topic.
James Luscombe Jr. said there is more to the project than just the waterline.
“The underlying issue is the waterline, but beyond that is the widening of the road,” Luscombe said. “If we roll over to the water line agenda, then we lose their footing on the real issue — widening the road.”
Robyn Luscombe said the property goes back generations — the Luscombe family has been there since the late 1800s. She also stated this is a developer driven issue.
“They (the developers) are more worried about profit, than the generations of families that have resided here,” Luscombe said.
Robyn Luscombe said she is encouraged that the mayor mentioned the Comprehensive Plan for the roads is under review this year, and also, that the mayor wants to negotiate; not proceed straight into paperwork to start the eminent domain.
Scott North, President of the Pecan Grove Homeowner’s Association, said he is worried that if the city begins the waterline project, it will not stop there.
“The contract states 40 feet of road which could in turn lead to the destruction of the trees that line the road and serves as a canopy to the neighborhood,” North said.
He said that he enjoys the fact that the neighborhood is slightly secluded.
“Pecan Grove is a beautiful neighborhood,” North said. “The reason people want to live in this area is because of the trees that line that road. If we let the city start tearing that up for the water lines, it’ll impact the whole neighborhood.”
Tom Plunkett, who lives north of Pecan Grove, showed up to show support for the neighborhood and said he thinks the city council needs to think outside of the box in terms of announcing agenda items.
“The city council did a good job advertising, but we need to be better,” Plunkett said “If it means front page of the paper, or a sign out front of the city hall.”
Mayor Crist expressed his appreciation to all the residents that showed up to have their voices heard.
“I appreciated everybody that has talked today,” Crist said.
The City Council approved the resolution to start negotiations due to the importance of the easement. The council members said the easement is necessary for the growth and development of the Pecan Grove neighborhood, and the new waterline is crucial to prevent loss of service to the neighborhood.
Luscombe said he was awestruck by the outpouring of support from his community.
“While we were not successful achieving our common objective tonight, we were very impressed by the support from our friends and neighbors,” Luscombe said.