Nottingham Country Homeowners Taking Kickerillo to Court Over Mason Creek Trail Dispute

A few homeowners in Katy’s Nottingham Country subdivision have now filed 2 separate lawsuits against Kickerillo Company, Inc. — the successor company to the firm that originally developed the subdivision in the 1970s. In 2010, Kickerillo transferred a strip of land along the southwest side of Mason Creek to the Harris County Flood District; the agency plans to build a 10-ft.-wide, $3.25 million trail along the waterway. The trail would allow bikers and hikers a clear path from the Kingsland Park & Ride on I-10 near Mason Rd. to George Bush Park. In a couple of news reports covering the controversy last year, Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack declared that the land along the waterway, which passes beyond the backyard fences of many Nottingham Country residents, now belongs to the county. A county attorney said that homeowners’ claims to the property resulted from a “misreading” of the plat.


But the lawsuits, filed in February and March, claim that the strip of land on that plat is shown as a “drainage easement” only, to “construct, install, alter and maintain surface and subsurface drainage facilities over, under, and across the above described property,” according to a recorded agreement. The lawsuits claim Kickerillo transferred to the county “property it did not own.”

Photo of Oak Tree along Mason Creek near Leatherwood Dr.: Allen Shea

37 Comment

  • The people who live along Mason Creek (for example along Rustic Knolls in the area of Prince Creek & Hoveden) have had half or more of their property since day 1 in a Harris County Flood Control District Drainage Easement. I don’t see what the big deal is, the county is doing what it can with what it has had all along… am I missing something?

  • You are missing something. The issue is that Kickerillo deeded property to Harris County that did not belong to them, it belonged to the lot holders along the creek. To be done legally, Harris County would have had to request a path easement from each of the homeowners.

  • A flood control easement does not grant the public access to your land. An easement is just a right to enter and do a specific task….it does not confer a right to give the general public access.

  • Yes, you are missing something. First, the flood control district is chartered to maintain drainage systems – not to spend $3.25 million taxpayer dollars on hike/bike trails. In this economy, that is a very poor use of funds. Second, they actually have only an easement. It is no different than your electrical easement. Does Reliant have the right to build a 10 foot road through your back yard?

  • Your are missing. MCUD board increased the water bills in 2008 claiming increased cost, but diverted the money to this project. Kickerillo was forced to change the plat by the county attorney. All this was done by a few individuals in the communite that wanted their own property value to increase and did not care if it resulting in taking property from others. Robert is correct a bike trail is not an easement,and the county could not use eminent domain because it does not provide income value to the comunity

  • Considering we have been paying taxes on the property behind our house for the last 16 years and Kickerillo has not, someone has a lot of explaining to do. Selling property that apparently belongs to me is nothing short of criminal.

  • Could we have a map on this? I’m getting all the Kickerillo Nottinghams confused.

  • What a bizarre thing to be upset about. The county is significantly improving this strip of land- it will benefit the people living along it as much as, if nt more than anyone.

  • “that apperently belongs to me”- that seems particularly telling. People are upset about “property rights” in the abstract rather than having a meaningful grievance.

  • Pep, there’s nothing to stop the County from exercising eminent domain here. There doesn’t have to be an income value, just a public use.

    I took a look at the block book maps, and it looks like there’s merely an easement. Each lot line extends to the middle of the creek. If Kickerillo had the property, I would have expected it to be a single piece, not hundreds.

    This will be making lots of money for the lawyers for a while.

  • If they wanted to condemn the property the certainly could go through the purchase for eminent domain citing public benefit defined in the Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights. That would take an awful lot of time and probably a lot of money, and successful condemnation is not guaranteed. They should have asked for path easements from the lot owners rather than executing a squirrelly deed in the dead of night based upon a flimsy opinion.

    @Texasota, I’m not sure you understand what it’s like to have a portion of property that you own by plat and deed “donated” for a project that you may or may not support by an entity that has no legal claim of ownership and placing a legal could on your property title. Insinuating that this is less than a legitimate grievance and that property owners should yield to illegal third party and governmental property annexation seems to be, perhaps, a knee-jerk reaction to what you must see as a universal, communal beneficial improvement. Forgive me if I have a slightly different view of the benefits and rights of property ownership.

  • As a homeowner whose property backs onto Mason Creek, I am sickened about the county’s handling of this issue. I have all the original documents for my property and am clearly the owner of the property in dispute. While Texasota sees this illegal act as “a universal, communal beneficial improvement”, one of the reasons I chose this property was because of the privacy it affords me. Now, I was advised by the county to build a new 10ft. high fence to replace the existing one at my expense. Plus, for all of us pet owners, a constant stream of traffic is certainly going to affect the peace and privacy all of us have treasured and enjoyed.

  • Texasota,
    Please list the “significantly improvement” you claim for the homeowners who’s land was stolen. Also I thought we live in the US a capitalist society not a socialist society or as Obama changed that law also.

  • Eh, if it’s your land you have every right to object to its use without your consent. I just cannot understand how anyone could possibly object to a trail being built behind their backyard, particularly considering that what’s currently there is just a poorly maintained strip of largely unused land.

  • Separate from the property issue, why does Harris County government, especially Steve Radack, have what appears to be an overwhelming drive to “parkify” every open piece of land in the county? This “poorly maintained strip of largely unused land” is a natural creek that has been here for hundreds of years. This property currently has a natural path along a natural creek that is just fine the way it is.

  • Well, there is enormous benefit to having a reasonably well-maintained regional network of trails. It’s great for recreational purposes, but it can also serve as infrastructure for those of us who bike frequently. I can’t overstate how much I miss the Grand Rounds and the rest of the trails in Minneapolis/Saint Paul.

  • Pep, nice teatard reference to Obama, but then again it IS Texas!

  • Just a couple of points:

    1)The “bike cult” would have you believe that significant infrastructure benefit is one of the results of bike path development. Even in much more densely populated urban areas, the infrastructure benefit, namely the use of urban bike path networks for commuting, has been marginal relative to the cost. Specific to this issue in Katy, a suburban area nearly ten miles from the nearest identifiable corporate density center, it is even less likely to achieve this benefit. The urbanist argument doesn’t play in suburban Houston or other widely spread low density areas. It’s not to say that this will not change in the future, but the argument that the benefit is inured in the short-term is not supported.

    2) While I am not a Barack Obama water carrier, the individuals involved in this issue on the Harris County and developer side are all long-term Republican party elected officials and contributors.

  • ah, “bike cult.” No biases there eh? While it’s certainly true that Katy is pretty far out, the great thing about a strong regional bike network is that it interconnects the region: not eberyone live in the Woodlands or Katy or wherever and works downtown. Localized trails can be used by students going to and from school, part time jobs and friends houses.

  • I’m not gonna lie, we were thisclose to moving further in to the city for access to more cool amenities, but then we saw this hike & bike trail begin construction, and now are seriously considering moving out of the Cinco area and remodeling an older Nottingham home. We’ve been shopping around, I had no idea there was a controvery or any attempt to fight it. Very disappointing.

  • I cannnot claim to have coined the “bike cult” moniker, but I kinda like it. There is a group that plays loose with the facts regarding the utility and benefits of urban and regional trail systems and paints any opposition as ignorant, anti-greenspace or anti-biking fossil fuel lovers. Tha being said, there are real benefits to these trails where they are done right, they don’t alter the natural landscape too much and they don’t impinge on the rights of adjacent or proximate landowners. In this case, after a lot of discussion, the players thought they could back door the construction of the path on private property by having the developer make like he never deeded the property to the lot owners and conveniently donate it to Harris County thirty-two years later. Problem solved! Now the county doesn’t have to negotiate with each homeowner and they build a beautiful state-of-the-art path that no one could possibly oppose because “it’s wonderful and it will increase your property values and we’ll keep it pretty and we’ll plant shrubs and people will love each other more and we’ll have free gummi bears for everyone”. Seriously, when faced with the concern that the property was illegaly deeded to the county, their response was “it’s going to be so wonderful, how can you not see the benefits? Almost everyone wants this. How could you possibly know what’s best for you…we’ll take it from here.”.

    It reminds me of the old Clayton Williams comment that got him in trouble while he was comparing rape to his philosophy on the current weather …”If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it”

  • Sorry not a member of Tea party or Republican. But I am from Pennsylvania. Their were more PA people killed at the Alamo than Texans They were there defending Texans property from a government that wanted to take it away. I am just another PA defending Texans rights to their property from another government that want to take it.

  • Texasota,here are the facts. The 10-30% property value claim was from a report done in CA prior to the crash in 2008. It was a study done on new developments with and without amenities. We now know that is was a bubble and the bike trails did not help hold property value. This same claim has been used across the country to sell this into the communities. some results have been better then other, but here are some facts.

  • Facts –
    1.)Bike trails have shown increase in crime including murder, rape, and theft.
    2.) Increase amount of homeless people taking residence under the bridge bike path area’s
    3.) Poor maintenance and security of trails. As local governments run out of cash, things like this get put aside.
    4.) While the homeowners in the community may see a small benefit of homes selling faster,homeowners next to the trails site on the market greater then 90 days over properties not next to the trails. While there is no study as to how in impacts the properties value next to the trails, the longer it stays on the market, the greater the risk of lower value.

  • More Facts:
    1.) Since the illegal transfer of the property. The county has not maintained it. Weeds are growing high. There has been no regular lawn care of any kind.
    2.) Graffiti has increase, several homes have been attacked by this issue along the path area. And new bike path concrete area has already been hit by the graffiti. I sure you would agree that it would not help home values with a bike path next door with graffiti everywhere
    3.) Drug traffic has increased. The bridge under path areas are being used for drug activity. One resident was attacked during a drug buy.
    4.) Student after school activities, have been a consent issue, as they leave the school property and head down into this area, it has been used to settle arguments from the school day.

    While on paper the idea sounds great, but in reality it is not a value for those next to the bike path.

  • Pep, I don’t remember suggesting that this will have a positive effect on property values. I am simply saying that it will be beneficial to the residents of the neighbood, particularly children and adolescents wh would gain a safe way to ride their bikes to various destinations. Now, if the people who live there don’t want it, fine. I would be more than happy to have Harris County spend that money right here inside the loop.

  • Pep,
    Admittedly your first post made it difficult to take you seriously, but can you cite any sources for your facts? Are these specific to the bike paths built in California? If so, it might be interesting to see what specific factors led to these paths’s downfall.

    I realize that this is mostly anecdotal, but having spent two years in Minneapolis I can speak to their heavily used, well-maintained and safe system of bike paths, despite a local economy that is in worse shape than ours, and despite the fact that the trails are really only usable 7 months out of the year.

    Oh, and : “4.) Student after school activities, have been a consent issue, as they leave the school property and head down into this area, it has been used to settle arguments from the school day.”- are you suggesting children will use this area for fights? are you arguing that providing bike trails will encourage children to fight?

    …and everyone at the Alamo was a Texan, by virtue of fighting and dying for Texas. I would advise you not to post on a Texas blog about being from Pennsylvania and fighting Texans’ battles for us.

  • Drug activity? Graffiti? After school fights? I had no idea Katy was such a crap hole. Scratch that neck of the woods off my “flee to the burbs” list.

  • Texasota,
    1.)I am a decedent of one of the Pennsylvania who died defending the Alamo, please do not insult my heritage. Dying defending Texas does not make you a Texan, it make you an American.
    2.)I own and live in Texas in this development, so this is my fight
    3.) The student fights, drug traffic, graffiti, and attacks are things that have happened since the local government has taken the property from us. My point was a bike path would require a large investment in security to maintain its value, and the local government so far has shown they are not up to the task.
    4.)The statement on CA property value was made as a point that all local governments who want these bike paths claim the same results (10%-30% value increase). There was no market study done for this bike path to show any potential market value, so for anyone to make that claim it is done without facts
    5.) I and my siblings have developed 10 times the amount of land as Kickerillo. I know the value of amenities. They are great selling points in the sale of new developments. But after the developer leaves you are subject to the local government body to maintain these amenities, some have done well, others have failed. The track record of MCUD shows alack of proper maintenance on existing property and equipment, the local police has shown poor security of the path area,and the local government was unwilling to sit with the true property owners to address any issues and concerns. Based on these facts I am unwilling to turn my property over these groups to manage a bike path. I am not against the project, but i cannot find any value in the project under the current state.

  • Old School, it’s a myth that the suburbs are better than the urban areas. The only reason schools are better is that the thugs in them are from a higher socioeconomic class and have better outward manners. All the suburbs have drug and gang issues, they just don’t get as much press, except when the kids start dying of overdoses, or they get caught committing robberies and such.

  • What a shame. This situation could have been avoided if the Kickerillo Co. would have contacted the property owners adjacent to the ‘path’ before ‘transferring’ land that they did not clearly have deed to. The ‘path’ perhaps may be ‘grandfathered’ in so to speak?
    I wish for all of the folks involved a peaceful and fair settlement for the relatively quiet way of life we have in Katy.

  • The main issue is that Steve Radack thinks he is above the law and can do whatever he wants to do. I suppose there will be yet another giant sign with his name proudly displayed along the trail. I do not understand why on earth anyone still votes for this arrogant man. He has placed developer needs above the needs of the community time and time again. As a Nottingham Country homeowner since 1994, maybe the trail would be lovely. That is not the point. The point is Steve Raddack, on behalf of Harris County, conspired with Kickerillo to steal homeowners’ property.I hope the decision is reversed or the county is ordered to go, hat in hand, to each homeowner for permission.

  • Several days ago I didn’t know the full story, I feel I’m up to speed more so now.

    If those who owned the lots along the west side of Mason Creek (that Kickerillo transferred to the County) owned outright the property all the way to the center line of the creek and had paid taxes on that property since 1994 (or whenever they bought the property) they would have had to transfer it to Kickerillo first then Kickerillo could transfer it to the County or they would have to transfer it to the County as individuals or the County would have had to condemn the property through a protracted process as outlined here:

    This could easily backfire at Kickerillo / The County and I see that now.

  • The path cannot be “grandfathered” in, because Kickerillo would have had to maintain ownership and indicate it as a reserve on the subdivision plat, like they did with the other areas they actually did set up to be parks.

    Although the idea of a trail seems noninvasive and a nice beautification move, the reality is much different. It is not a path like in the other parks in the area(the width of a sidewalk). It is designed to be 10 feet wide (more like a road). The end point is not the Park and Ride as has been suggested elsewhere. It is I-10. It is obviously being designed to accommodate large groups of bikers coming in from outside the community on weekends. What happens to the community children, parents with wagons and strollers, older folk, and people who like to walk their dogs on the trail now? Furthermore, the County’s claim that they are going to install irrigation systems and plant trees is ludicrous. Trees cannot be planted in flood control easements. The Corps of Engineers will not allow it. The large oak was spared only because of its historical significance. Also, look at the other side of Fry Road where the path is complete. It just looks like an ugly blacktop road.

    One of the biggest proponents of the project is a MCUD board member (they are providing a lot of the funding). His house is on the creek and he is all for the bike path. Of course, his house is on the OTHER side of the creek.

  • I live 100 yards from the creek on the other side of Fry Rd. I wanted an improved path along the creek and began talking to the county years ago and had looked at all the properties on the county maps.
    On the north side of Mason Creek only the homes along Shillington along the creek had title to land up to the middle of the creek.
    The Harris County Flood Control District had responsibility for the mowing and maintenance along all portions of the creek. My subdivision also owned an acre along the creek, all the way to the middle as our drainage easement. It was granted to Harris County earlier this year so we could get out of the way.
    The folks who want to sue Kickerillo are off base, and their surveys were WRONG as
    they did not own the land to the middle of the creek.
    Granting the use of the easement for recreation is not a big deal nor is it a power grab or land grab or anything else.
    I’ve been walking along the south bank for 15 years and am happy it is no longer badly rutted by illegal vehicles and I will see any snake way ahead of time.
    Now if we could keep the skinny-pant bike people off it will be perfect! Oh, well.

  • And another point, land transfers are legal matters and CANNOT happen without all those T’s and I’s being taken care of.
    There are lawyers on all sides, and now we are all expected to agree with the anti-trail people that the county and Kickerillo are engaged in illegal land transfers and grants of easement?
    In my world this does not happen and cannot happen unless it is on the up-and-up.
    There is not a conspiracy here, so everyone needs to move on.

  • mickeycz, my friend, you are awfully certain in your comments for an ill-informed individual. As an individual with some knowledge of what transpired, I can tell you that this did happen in your world. Harris County, Kickerillo, etc were challenged and settled with at least one of the homeowners restoring their ownership of the easement property to the center of the creek. Check the public property records if you don’t believe it. Before you start speaking in absolutes, you better know what you’re talking about.