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?
Uh . . . maybe it was the aerial view on Google Maps?
Larias’s home backs up to the Fort Bend Tollway. The photo at the top of this story was taken yesterday, apparently by Larias or his attorney, Anthony Bannwart, who rushed it off along with an emergency petition to District Court Judge Jim Shoemake. The judge — who back in August had ordered both sides to take no further action until he had issued a ruling — was not happy to learn of it, and granted a temporary restraining order and injunction:
His order bars Campbell from contacting or harassing any neighbors, and it bars him from blocking any access to the disputed land. It also forbids him from trying to sell the disputed land while the case is pending.
Another court hearing is set for Nov. 23, when the judge will rule on what happens next on the broader question of land ownership.
And what about the fence?
After Thursday’s ruling was issued, Campbell’s employees were still working on the fence until they saw a Local 2 Investigates camera crew. They then packed up and left and Campbell was not seen on the site.
- Homeowners Fenced Off From Driveways, Parts Of Families’ Driveways Sold [Click2Houston, via HAIF]
- Plaintiffs’ Ex Parte Emergency Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and Temporary Injunction (PDF) [Click2Houston]
Photo: Plaintiffs’ petition (PDF)