I had the chance to sit down with Melissa City Manager Jason Little recently and get his thoughts on some of the happenings in his city. Talk ranged from land annexations to new business and growth and served to illustrate what the future may hold for the city.
The Melissa City Council held a series of public hearings concerning land annexations on several parcels over the past few months. On July 23, Council voted to annex 13 properties totaling 39.7 acres. The properties are located along SH 121 and a few in the U.S. 75 area. Little explained that the land being annexed is surrounded on all sides by the city which led to the desire for annexation.
"What we’re trying to accomplish [is] looking at these pockets that are surrounded by city limits," stated Little. "They’re generally getting all the city services. When there is a call for service — police or fire — we’re typically the first ones there."
Little went on to explain that prior to annexation, the properties in question were not subject to rule enforcement by the city. Land development rules, overgrown lawns, none of that can be enforced in the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) which led residents to question City Hall as to why their neighbors weren’t required to adhere to the same code enforcement rules.
"So part of this idea was to make it consistent, let’s make it equitable," Little said. "Let’s close these boundaries so that everything within our city limits…there are consistent codes."
The City of Melissa will be required by law to furnish city services — water and utilities — within 2 to 4 years. For some of the agricultural properties the city will be required to furnish pre-annexation agreements so that they can continue to do what they do. Future residential development on these properties would be subject to city rules and codes.
The land in question can be viewed on the city’s website at cityofmelissa.com. Go ti the site and click on the Departments tab, click on Economic Development and Developing in Melissa. The Maps option will pull up the complete map of Melissa’s city limits.
One new and one expanding business are making headlines in the Melissa business community. At that same July 23 meeting referenced earlier, Council held a public hearing for a motorcycle sales and service facility requesting a variance allowing issuance of a permit to construct a sign. The variance was approved.
Terry LaCore of LaCore Powersports had been studying the prospect of opening a full-service motorcycle and recreational vehicle powersports store in the city for a couple of years. According to Little, the market was studied and property acquired to test the waters locally, to test the market. If all goes well, LaCore may construct a purpose-built facility. In this instance, a temporary facility was the perfect situation so LaCore Powersports leased the Waterfall Center of Melissa at 1205 State Highway 121. They are converting that property into a sales and service center for what is estimated to be up to three years before determining whether or not they need a purpose-built facility.
"I think they will do well," said Little.
A strip center is in the planning stages just south of City Hall on Hwy. 5. Kenneth Tallent, of Tallent Roofing, is building an approximately 15,000 square foot facility. Tallent’s company is expected to occupy part of the center and lease out the other part. Construction is expected to begin shortly.
Physical Therapy of Melissa will be expanding its business in the coming months. Owner Nat Christadoss is building his own facility on Hwy. 5 about a quarter mile south of City Hall near Zadow Park.
When Little arrived in Melissa nearly seven years ago there were plenty of lots available in the subdivisions within the city. By 2012, the overall lot count was hovering around 150 or so lots within all of the subdivisions. Fast forward to 2013: North Creek is coming in with three phases, Liberty with two phases, Villages is coming in with two phases and Trails of Melissa is adding another phase. Little said he expects about 500 or so lots developed by this time next year. He describes this time period as the city’s second major residential growth wave.
"That’s going to help us with the commercial side," said Little. "Residential is expanding and we’re getting good commercial inquiries.
"We’re also getting prepared for the tough part, and that’s transportation."
The news cannot be all rosy for the city it seems. Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot) will be bringing its carnival of highway construction and traffic delays north to Melissa. Highway 75 and SH 121 will be, in a word, rough. Construction on 75 is supposed to start in the Fall and 121 will follow after that. The projects are expected to go on for two to three years. Things will have to get worse before they get better, but the 75/121 interchange will be included in the project and one hopes the constant mashing of steel and glass at this juncture will be remedied.
Little said he wants to continue to encourage residents to get the ISO reduction letter from the city’s website to turn in to their insurance carriers.
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) collects information on city fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data in three major areas: the Fire Department operations, water system and communications and then assigns a Public Protection Classification (PPC) ranging from 1 to 10.
ISO recently lowered the city’s rating from a 3 to a 2 on a 1 to 10 scale with one being the top rating score. Of the more than 46,000 communities nationwide rated by ISO, fewer than one percent are rated a 2 or better. For example, in Collin County, Plano, Frisco, and Wylie have ISO 1, while Allen, Fairview, McKinney and now Melissa are an ISO 2.
Policy holders are encouraged to contact their insurance carriers to request the new classification be included in their policies. Residents and business owners should check with their insurance agents and verify the new rate and related lower insurance premiums. Notification from the Texas Department of Insurance of the new rates is available at www.cityofmelissa.com.
"It’s very rare to have a 2," said Little. "I’m personally very proud of the fire department and public works. It is a big deal for us."