STUCK IN THOSE NEIGHBORHOOD SAND TRAPS The Ohio investor who bought up 3 Houston community golf courses over the last decade, then sold the one in Quail Valley to Missouri City a couple of years ago, is running into a few obstacles in his attempts to sell the other 2 to developers: “The latest roadblock came with a jury verdict late last year that would prohibit the use of the land that once served as the Inwood Forest Country Club for any purpose other than a golf course. . . . The Harris County jury found that the Inwood Forest golf property contained an ‘implied reciprocal negative easement,’ [Inwood Forest homeowners association member Julie] Grothues said. In plain English, that means that an owner of the course is bound to keep it as a course even though the original deed has no such restrictive covenant. The lawyer for the homeowners association argued that the course was an essential component of the neighborhood, and that allowing it to be cut up for development would irrevocably change the character of the community and the value of the homes.”
Is Mark Voltmann’s game going any better at the shuttered Clear Lake Golf Club? “The deed for the Clear Lake property contains a restriction preventing owners from using it for anything but a golf course or recreational facility until 2021. Voltmann has filed suit to try to bust the deed restrictions. In theory, success could translate into a big payday, as a portion of the property has good commercial potential. But the Inwood verdict is looming. If it stands up, homeowners could use the same argument to stymie him again.” [Houston Chronicle; listing]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE “TRICKLE-DOWN” THEORY OF HOUSTON REDEVELOPMENT “. . . Historic Districts suck and deed restriction, too. They pit neighbor against neighbor, creating the distraction that will keep residents from organizing across the city and taking aim at the real predators. Meanwhile, the money behind the bulldozers is laughing till they pee their pants.” [finness, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Foundations of Wayne]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: LOTS CLEARED BY UNFORCED ERROR “In my neighborhood there is one empty lot where a developer purchased a really lovely old home, deemed it a “teardown,” and THEN found out that deed restrictions prohibited subdividing the [really] large lot. . . . On the other hand, if the potential buyers of the land in my neighborhood had done their due diligence at the beginning (when the estate was being probated the buyers were lining up, it was nuts), perhaps the old ranch house would have been renovated, or a new single home would have gone up, appropriate for the neighborhood. Now the land is empty save the old citrus trees and tumbled down brick wall at the egdes of the yard. And the owners get to pay property taxes based on their inflated valuation of the land, and keep it mowed, too. Maybe the present day lending restraints will prohibit such magical thinking by developers in our old neighborhoods. Meanwhile there are plenty of undeveloped lots laying around because the original plan didn’t quite work out the way the buyer intended.” [Karen, commenting on A Sunset Heights Lot Size Turf War]
Some neighbors of the Annunciation Orthodox School and cathedral in Montrose are not too happy about the institutions’ plans to build a parking lot on the site of an apartment complex at the corner of Yoakum and Marshall it tore down a year or so ago. But Clifford Pugh suspects even more pavement may be on the horizon:
Even though the lot is prohibited under the deed restrictions, representatives from the school told residents at a meeting last week they plan to proceed anyway. “Our interpretation is that the deed restrictions are not valid and not enforceable,” a school official said.
Actually, the deed restrictions allow the school to petition residents for an exemption. But that would set a precedent I believe the school doesn’t want to acknowledge. It owns several other homes in the area and I suspect officials are itching to tear them down in the future, too. Between the school and the church, they’ve already torn down the equivalent of a block-and-a-half of housing to make way for parking lots — but there’s always room for more.
Photo: Clifford Pugh
Sure, Mary Ellen Carroll is gonna pick up this Sharpstown lot across from Bayland Park and the house on it and rotate the whole thing 180 degrees. Oh, and then there’s gonna be that hydroponic curtain-wall fencing system and the solar and geothermal systems and the wi-fi cloud and the fancy door hardware and the bees and all. Still gotta meet the local deed restrictions.
Video: Douglas Britt
Lakewood Church’s Joel Osteen, in Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Everyday, p. 289:
I remember as a young couple, Victoria and I found a home that we really liked. It was a run-down house but on a nice piece of property. And we knew it was for us. In the natural, it didn’t make a lot of sense. We were leaving a beautiful townhome. Yet we knew that’s what God wanted us to do. So we took a step of faith and we bought the run-down house. The day we closed on it, we were standing in the front yard and a Realtor stopped by and offered us much more than we had paid. We thought, “What’s going on?” We didn’t understand it. Come to find out, they were in the process of changing the deed restrictions in the neighborhood. And several years later, we sold that property for twice as much as we paid for it. That was God causing us to be at the right place at the right time.