Anna officials voice concerns over public safety in Mantua

By Joshua Baethge
Anna-Melissa Tribune
Plans for the Mantua development call for nearly 6,000 homes as well as commercial development and parks. It will encompass parts of Van Alstyne and Anna along the west side of US 75.

Anna city officials expressed reservations Monday over a Collin County Commissioners vote to approve administrative services as part of a newly created Van Alstyne Municipal Utility District (M.U.D) that will be part of the future Mantua development. Anna Councilman Kevin Toten authored a letter asking commissioners not to approve the measure due to concerns that Anna first responders would be stretched too thin.

Van Alstyne and Anna have a mutual aid agreement. When one city needs backup or additional assistance, they often call on the other for help. According to the letter written by Toten, the M.U.D. agreement would increase what Anna considers a mutual aid imbalance between the cities, further burdening the Anna Fire Department’s response capabilities. The letter contended that the Van Alstyne Fire Department is currently staffed at 40 percent of what the National Fire Protection Association considers minimum for basic services within their current area.

“The addition of this territory represents an additional 4.3 square miles of fire district and an additional 5,000 plus homes long- term,” Toten’s letter said. “This increase of geographical coverage area and subsequent population growth will easily overload an already understaffed fire department. If Van Alstyne Fire Department fails to increase its personnel, the Anna mutual aid response imbalance will elevate and critically impair our ability to serve our community.” 

County Commissioners ultimately approved the agenda item over Anna’s objections. They said that Mantua project developer, Risland US Holdings, had done all that was asked of them. The Commissioners also encouraged Anna and Van Alstyne officials to meet and address the issues raised.

Van Alstyne City Manager Lane Jones said he was surprised by the letter because nobody had previously expressed any concerns to him about an imbalance of mutual aid. In response to the issues raised with County Commissioners, he’s scheduled a meeting with his police and fire chief next week to discuss the situations and seek solutions where needed. 

“I have also sent an email to the Anna City Manager letting him know that this is now a subject that has risen to my attention and I will be working on solutions that he and I can discuss,” Jones said.  “I am confident Jim (Proce) and I can examine the issues and find solutions.”  

The Mantua project is a 2,950-acre mixed-use development along the west side of US 75 that will eventually include parts of both Van Alstyne and Anna. Ground was broken last year on the first phase which sits on the north side of the property in Van Alstyne.

While the vote did not go as his city had asked, Anna City Manager Jim Proce was encouraged by the County Commissioner’s support of having Anna officials included in public safety discussions with the developer going forward.

“This in itself is a win from the perspective that while we have some differences in opinions on operational needs and approaches, we will be able to provide input when it comes to matters that affect our neighbors as this area develops both in Collin and Grayson counties and our respective ETJs (extraterritorial jurisdictions),” he said.