Northern Collin County continues to grow, one family is fighting expansion of their farm road and to keep their way of life intact.
Many know the Luscombe family for their businesses the Luscombe Farm Market and Foster Crossing Pecans. The family has lived in Anna for more than a century. They can trace their roots back to the early 1900s and in 1913 the family built a house on a farm just outside of Anna.
Six generations later, several family members reside in houses along Foster-Crossing Road, and that’s where their story picks up today. Currently Robyn and Jim Luscombe are refusing the Anna City Council’s request to allow a water line easement agreement at the front of their house along Foster-Crossing Road.
Robyn Luscombe said they are concerned about the water line easement because the city came to them earlier this month, and during those discussions she learned the city plans to expand the Foster-Crossing Road that runs between several family homes.
This isn’t the first time the road expansion has come up. In 2004, the family fought plans for the road expansion, telling the previous mayor and city council that expansion of the road would disrupt their life and cause their houses to be closer to the road, in effect cutting their front yard in half.
“This is our family,” Robyn Luscombe said. “We fought it in 2004 because of the disruption that it would mean to our family.”
Jim Luscombe said the family had a handshake deal with the city and developer that when it came time for a new subdivision phase to be completed in Pecan Grove that a new road would be built through the neighborhood to accommodate the increase in traffic.
But now, Jim Luscombe said, the city has gone back on its word and plans to expand the Foster-Crossing Road instead, even throwing out the words “eminent domain.” Jim believes the city will use that power to take their property and expand the road.
Nearly 70 people showed up to the Luscombe open house on Sunday. The family presented their case to the public and asked for help in fighting the water line easement and road expansion.
Current Anna City Council Member and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Bryan of Place 5 was there along with candidate for city council Scott North, who is running against Bryan.
“I decided to have an open house today because we were not given an opportunity to tell our concerns or our side of this road issue and Mayor Crist just insists that it’s not about a road, it’s about a water line,” Robyn Luscombe said.
She believes it is about a road though, and if her family signs the water line easement agreement they will only strengthen the city’s case for expansion of their family road.
The Luscombe family originally built the road back in the 1900s when they needed to move horse-drawn farming equipment from one farm to another. That’s how the roadway originally came to be, but now it’s a two-lane paved road about 40 feet across. If it’s expanded to 100 feet that will change the landscape of the Luscombe’s four family houses.
The Luscombe family asked people at the open house to attend the city council meeting and sign up to speak during public comments. They hope that by gathering public support they can fight to keep their road just how it is.
Due to this unrest, the City Council held a special Town Hall meeting at Anna High School Tuesday night. Joseph Johnson, director of public works, had a presentation before the council opened the floor for citizens. In the presentation, Johnson said that the water line to Pecan Grove was a dead end line. With the current residents and the new upcoming growth, Johnson projected that more than 900 residents will be in and around the area near Pecan Grove. Due to the growth, the water lines need to be improved. With the new water line, Johnson projected better water quality and water pressure.
Johnson also stated the five key factors in choosing where to lay new water line: Making sure the route has easy access for the fire and utility department, adhering to fiscal responsibility, taking into account existing structures in the area, being mindful of the trees and anticipating new developments are all major factors to consider while choosing a location.
The residents that wanted to ask questions had three minutes to do so, in order to ensure that everyone who wanted to ask questions had time.
Some residents worried what kind of damage the heavy equipment used to lay the new water line will do to the trees and the roots of the trees along the roadway, the ones that create the canopy to the entrance of Pecan Grove. Johnson reassured the residents the heavy equipment will not be anywhere near the tree line, or the roots.
“There will be a 20-foot permanent easement and a 20-foot temporary easement to allow the equipment enough room without damaging the trees,” Johnson said.
During the Town Hall, Jim Luscombe said he is worried that the city did not take into account the impact the water line will have on the community. Luscombe suggested finding an alternate route.
Anna City Manager Philip Sanders said the location at Pecan Grove is the optimal spot, because of its location.
“If you run the water line down the middle of a property, you are essentially splitting that property,” Sanders said. “Doing that makes it difficult to reach if there are issues. However, running the line at the edge makes it easier for the fire or utility department to reach in case of a leak.”
Luscombe asked the council members if an arborist had been consulted to make sure the trees would be protected during the construction. Mayor Mike Crist said that no arborists had been consulted, but the water line is going to be outside of the drip line — the outermost circumference of where the water drips from the tree an onto the ground.
After the citizens had a chance to ask questions, Sanders had a small presentation to explain some of the earlier questions. In this presentation, Sanders said the master plan is set to help accommodate the city’s growth. It covers roadways, land use and other areas. It is revised every five to seven years, but sometimes it needs to be amended during those years. Sanders also said that at this current time, the road that has so many tempers flaring is not going to be in the construction plans. The developer of the new subdivision is only improving the part in front of the new neighborhood, nothing further.