- 8422 Thompson Lake Dr. [HAR]
UN-RE-ZONING OF MISSOURI CITY TRACT PAVES WAY FOR SHIPMAN’S COVE MASTER PLANS The Missouri City council voted last week to approve a “planned development” zoning classification for a woody 95.3-acre tract at the edge of the Creekmont and Newpoint Estates subdivisions off Hwy. 6 at Watts Plantation Rd., which master plan planner Ashton Woods wants to turn into a 287-unit housing development called Shipman’s Cove. The January vote came after a determination by the city’s attorney that the failed September vote on the same issue had technically passed: Councilmembers now says that the vote to change the undeveloped land’s zoning classification (an act that would have required a 75 percent majority among the 7 council members, and fell 1 vote short of that hurdle) actually only counted as a vote to zone it for the first time — which only needs a simple majority for approval. Amelia Brust reports that neither the city council nor city attorney “explained what prompted the further review, nor did they identify the outside legal counsel hired by the city” that helped review the situation; Missouri City mayor Allen Owen also said at the time of the vote that multiple lawsuits looked to be in the works. [Community Impact] Image of planned site of Shipman’s Cove: Missouri City
UTAH’S MALAWI’S PIZZA TO PLANT FAKE TREE NEXT TO DOUBLE MATTRESS FIRM IN SIENNA PLANTATION Malawi’s Pizza (which currently has 3 locations sprinkled along a stretch of northern Utah between Salt Lake City and Provo) is planning the first of some 20 Houston-area locations, writes Katherine Feser. The fast-casual-with-fine-china chain’s main shtick, other than the life-size acacia tree model in each restaurant? The company says it donates nutritional supplements and allotments of grain to folks in Malawi in proportion to the number of pizzas sold each month. The first Houston spot is planned for 8731 Highway 6 Center (a new retail strip immediately west of the double Mattress Firm on Highway 6) in Missouri City. Another location may be on the way to Central Square in Midtown; the company says it hopes to open 4 Houston-area locations by the end of 2017, while also expanding to Dallas and Virginia. [Houston Chronicle] Rendering of Highway 6 Center: Hunington Properties
If you thought it was kinda adorable how those 2 same-owner mattress stores are snuggling up right next to each other at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose Blvd. in Montrose, you’re sure to be enthralled by the suburban version of the same like-kind pair-up down about Sienna Plantation, what with their separate, straight-laced façades and separate showrooms. Mattress Firm has been open for a couple years already at 8741 Hwy. 6 South in Missouri City; the same company’s slightly larger Mattress Pro just opened up next door at 8735 last month. Better yet, the buildings are for sale, together!
Maybe the looks of this spa are too brutal a reminder of how the season went down the toilet? Houston Texans middle linebacker Brian Cushing injured his knee in October and was forced to watch from the sidelines as his team bowed out to the New England Patriots in the NFL playoffs. Now, his 7,007-sq.-ft. Missouri City home is for sale, starting at $1,299,900.
MITT ROMNEY’S MISSOURI CITY MORTGAGE Among those who answered the clarion call to invest in Houston-area real estate back in the early eighties, just a few years before its big crash: Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Long before he earned billions at the helm of Bain Capital, Romney bought 5 rent-to-own houses in suburban areas of Houston — “without putting up any of his own money,” according to Mike McIntire’s report. Romney got stuck renting out the houses until the late 1990s, when he unloaded 4 of them, “mostly at a loss.” The tenants of the fifth house wanted to buy their 1,836-sq.-ft. 3-bedroom home (at 1350 Gentle Bend Dr. in Missouri City’s Hunters Glen neighborhood) but couldn’t qualify for a mortgage. So Romney became their bank. Tim and Betty Stamps have been making out $600 checks to Romney every month for 15 years. They refinanced the property with him this June. [NY Times]
MISSOURI CITY GROWS ITS OWN TRAIL MIX Missouri City forester Paul Wierzbicki tells reporter Cory Stottlemeyer that he expects the Jujubes, Mexican plums, Mexican persimmons, mulberries, pomegranates, figs, pears, and kumquats he began planting along the Oyster Creek Trail last fall to survive through the year. The 70 fruit- and nut-bearing trees now growing along half of the Missouri City section of the trail between Mosley Park and FM 3345 were selected for their tolerance to local conditions, including drought and Gulf Coast pests. Planted in 7 separate groves and interspersed with signage bearing descriptions and the corporate logos of sponsors, they constitute the region’s first-ever edible arbor trail. By next fall, Wierzbicki hopes to have the city’s entire portion of the trail lined with tree bounty trailgoers can reach out and eat. [Fort Bend Sun] Photo: Missouri City
The price Missouri City is paying to purchase the former Quail Valley Country Club from golf-course speculator Mark Voltmann’s Renaissance Golf Group was adjusted from $3.1 million up to $7.4 million last week — 2 years after the city acquired the 390-acre property by eminent domain, and one day before a dispute over the price was set to go to trial. Renaissance claimed the property was worth about $14 million, but at the time of the sale it was listed for $6.59 million by the appraisal district.
Renaissance’s plans to rezone a 17.5-acre portion of the site to allow for a development of 54 Ryland Homes homesites were rejected by the city’s planning and zoning commission in 2006.
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]
AT HOME WITH THE WILDLIFE IN WATERBROOK WEST A relaxing, light-suburban lifestyle with plentiful opportunities for hunting and re-landscaping — who says you can’t have it all in Fort Bend County? “Within the past five [months], Missouri City began a program to attempt to decrease the number of hogs in the Waterbrook West community after hearing complaints from several residents. The city authorized two independent contractors to work in the area to trap in the neighborhood and the surrounding property, and other properties as access is granted. So far, 60 hogs have been caught and removed. Unfortunately, the animals breed so quickly those 60 will likely soon be replaced with 60 more. According to Michael Weiss, a State Game Warden with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division, the hogs have two or three litters per year, and the babies are ready to breed at around one year. . . . The animals are considered ‘exotic’ and not a native game animal in Texas, so they can be hunted year-round and there is no limit to the number hunters can kill. Weiss said the feral hogs are intelligent enough that once one or two are caught in a trap, others tend to leave that area. He also said that although the hogs are generally afraid of people, if cornered they can be aggressive – especially a cornered sow with her litter. When Weiss started his career 25 years ago, he said he only saw the problem in certain areas of the state. Now, he said, there isn’t a county in Texas that doesn’t have the wild pigs roaming around and creating a nuisance. ‘When people go and do landscaping, the hogs love to come tear it up and search for food,’ said Weiss. ‘I don’t know what the solution is. There’s not one, really.’” [Fort Bend Now]
What are these Campbell Construction Company workers doing? Just building a fence down aways on Barron Ln. from their Missouri City office — in order to block the driveway belonging to their neighbor, Cesar Larias. Owner Jeff Campbell ordered the fence built after Larias refused to pay a $50 monthly fee to access his own garage.
Ten years ago, Campbell bought several parcels — one of which apparently includes Larias’s driveway and most of his front yard — from a tax auction. How’d they come up for sale? Channel 2 reporter Stephen Dean explains:
Court documents reviewed by Local 2 Investigates show that the original landowner who developed the entire neighborhood had divided off several of the strips of land in question, hoping to sell them separately someday if the government expanded Hillcroft Street down through the subdivision. That expansion never happened.
The original landowner died and Fort Bend County ended up selling the parcels of subdivided land at an auction on the courthouse steps because no one was paying taxes on those parcels anymore.
Until Campbell asked him and several neighbors to start paying a fee to access their own properties, Larias had no idea that his driveway and front yard did not belong to his family’s homestead. Alas, such appears to be the case.
Asked if he has considered selling the land back to the homeowners, Campbell said, “Yeah, but the amount they want to give for it, I don’t want to sell it for that. You see the situation that I’m in?”
Campbell insisted he’s not trying to gouge the neighbors or force them from their homes, although he admitted he may want to expand his nearby construction business.
“Well, my decision was to have them pay something to use it,” said Campbell. “I’ve been really above and beyond fair about it. I’m not trying to hurt these people.”
He admitted that it may appear heavy-handed for him to have placed a Dumpster across the driveway when the Larios family stopped paying for access.
Wait! How’d you reporter dudes find out about the Dumpster?
A Swamplot reader from the Missouri City neighborhood of Quail Glen writes in asking for help figuring out what to do about a neighbor who’s tapped her water line:
“. . . the guilty party had dug up the ground and connected a line from [their house] (previous and currently disconnected for several months) into the active line that provides water that we are paying for. This investigation was initially sparked during January 2009 due to skyrocketing water bills. After several visits to our home and meter, the City of Houston discovered the problem on today. When confronted, the inhabitants fabricated a story saying that they pay a 300.00 water bill each month to the City of Houston (despite their account being disconnected) and that they are moving anyway.
Our reader has a bit more to say about those neighbors:
To counter the all-shutterings edition of Openings and Closings posted on Swamplot earlier this week, here’s a mostly debuts version:
In addition to sliders, fries and shakes, Little Big’s also offers wine and beer at extremely reasonable prices, which will all but ensure their popularity. Once the large, welcoming patio is completed, it’s a sure bet that this will be the new hot spot in Montrose.
This Little Big’s is in the former Ming’s Cafe on Montrose just north of Westheimer; the next one will be in Hermann Park.