I had a chance to sit down with Joe Hilbourn, the development services director for the town of Lucas. He was kind enough to answer some questions I had which led to even more questions. So, in no particular order, here are the notes I took from the meeting …
The town of Lucas no longer inspects homes within the ETJ, or extraterritorial jurisdiction. These are parcels of land that are technically not within the town of Lucas, but could come in if they were annexed. For example, Seis Lagos is within the Lucas ETJ but is not within the city limits and does not pay city of Lucas taxes. Anyway, third party inspectors will now be doing the inspections on homes in the Lucas ETJ.
Three inspections will still be required on new homes coming up within the ETJ, foundation, plumbing and framing, and electrical. Homes built within the town of Lucas will still be required to have 16 different inspections. I asked Joe if they get bogged down with that many inspections on each home and he said “no”. They can almost always get out to a home on the same day the inspection is needed if the call is made before 8AM. I thought that was pretty impressive.
200 homes were built in Lucas in 2018. I thought that sounded like a lot but Joe reminded me many of those homes (120) are within Inspiration and built by volume builders. Joe is projecting a total of about 80 homes to be built in Lucas in 2019, which is 60% fewer homes. He bases his projections on building permits and applications. We're also seeing the same market slowdown. This ISN'T a crash, just a market correction after 7 years of robust growth.
Right now, Lucas has about 7,855 residents and Joe is projecting Lucas to be fully developed within 20 years with 16,500 residents.
Something I have a keen interest in is the status of reliable high speed Internet access. I’ve been saddled with slow speeds for years. I’ve tried every Internet provider out here and always been disappointed. We finally got ATT Uverse and it’s still fairly unreliable and tops out at 17 megs down. Some areas of Lucas get 300 megs down with Suddenlink, but it’s nowhere near us. Joe said the town is very aware of the problem and has formed a group of 5 IT guys to do some research on what it would cost to bring high speed into all parts of Lucas. Where this leads is anyone's guess, but at least someone is working on it
Remember the little fireworks stand where Rock Ridge intersects with Country Club? When I saw it go up, I wondered how they got that approved, and now I know. Texas law used to allow towns to control fireworks not only within their city limits, but also up to 5,000 feet away. That law was overturned (although I have no idea how the lawmakers justified it) so you can now sell fireworks right up to the city limits.
Lucas is in VERY healthy financial condition. We have a surplus of two years in funding to run the town. Ninety days is considered the norm for towns like ours, so we’re way ahead of the curve.
Our Fire Department now has 12 fire fighters, a chief, and assistant chief.
Lucas is patrolled by two sheriff’s deputies, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Crime is low. Last year, there were a total of 76 calls total. None of these were serious crimes.