Some Villages of Oak Creek Colony residents want to know why they’re paying their homeowners association to maintain a hike and bike path although League City has an easement to the trail.
“If residents are paying for the trail’s maintenance, then that isn’t right or acceptable,” League City resident Carson Neal said. “I think the HOA needs to be clearer with everyone in the neighborhood because there hasn’t been great communication.”
Villages of Oak Creek Colony Homeowners Association would not comment about the fees or an easement, which is a right to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose.
Other residents said the homeowners’ association and its attorneys misrepresented a situation in 2014 when the association granted an easement to the city to create the hike and bike trail.
“There were promises made,” resident Steve Maudsley said. “It’s a plethora of problems, and we’ve continued to pay for it.”
Part of the concern was that the law firm representing the association was Houston-based Gregg & Gregg, residents said. Gregg & Gregg was the same law firm that had represented the city for 17 years, as reported in The Daily News in 2014.
The city asked another law firm, Dallas-based Riddle & Williams, to review the association’s granting of the easement, according to a Nov. 5, 2014, letter to then-City Manager Mark Rohr. Riddle & Williams found that the association followed the law, according to the letter.
“The 208 votes cast in this matter represent 86 percent participation of the 242 total potential votes in the association, which would lead one to conclude that the association members understood the issue presented,” the letter stated.
The vote came during a heated meeting with police officers present, Maudsley said. It was the second meeting the association held about the easement, he said.
Residents at the first meeting had voted against granting the easement, but that didn’t prohibit the association from having another vote at the second meeting with 188 residents out of the 208 present voting in favor of granting the city the easement, according to the letter from Riddle & Williams.
In 2015, resident Imeldia Adams took the association to court over the trail’s easement before a Harris County judge dismissed the case in 2016, according to court documents. Her petition stated that her property adjoined the easement.
The city identified a hike-and-bike trail in Villages of Oak Creek Colony in the city’s Master Trails Plan. The 8-foot concrete trail replaced an existing granite path with an added extension to FM 518, according to the plan.
Resident Scott Robertson also has found the homeowners association to be less than forthcoming, he said.
“Before the path was accepted by the city council, I did an information request to the city,” Robertson said. “I asked for all correspondence between my HOA and the city regarding this path. I found a week before them mailing out our voter guides for the second meeting that the HOA was made aware that the city was not going to mow and edge this easement. They were just going to simply take care of the concrete.”
It was not until Robertson requested information and noticed that his neighbors were mowing the green space around the path themselves that something was not right, he said.
“Nobody knows that we are paying for it,” Robertson said. “Our residents aren’t aware that we are paying for it. After the path went in, we just maintained it. We mow it, we edge it. It was said that this was going to be maintained at no cost. Any cost is some cost.”
If Robertson thinks that his homeowners’ association acted inadequately, then that’s a conversation he should have with the association board, city Parks Director Chien Wei said.
The city had agreed to bear the responsibility of maintaining the path, Wei said.
“Subsequently, the HOA expressed a desire to undertake the maintenance of the trail so that its mowing would be on the same mowing cycle as the remainder of the linear HOA park, and the city did not object,” he said.
Despite several attempts to talk to the association, Robertson hasn’t gotten any answers, he said.
“They won’t respond to anything from me,” he said. “They’re afraid that I want to sue them and I don’t want to sue my HOA, but I do want people to be aware that an HOA can fundamentally change what you purchase.”
The city is willing to talk to the neighborhood about the path’s maintenance, City Manager John Baumgartner said.
“If the HOA revisits it, and we need to talk about it, we’re certainly willing to talk to them,” he said. “We believe we are in good standing with the HOA and we will continue to work with them if there is an issue.”
Robertson wants residents in other subdivisions to realize there is an opportunity for discussion, Robertson said.
“And another thing to note, the path is great,” Robertson said. “I’m not saying the path is a bad thing. The path itself is an awesome thing. My problem is the burden that comes with it to which we absorb.”
Maudsley doesn’t live along the easement, but he feels the association acted in an underhanded way, he said. Having armed police officers at the meeting was one example, he said.
“It’s the way it was done,” Maudsley said.