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Lago Mar homeowners meeting a hotbed of discontent in Texas City

By KATHRYN EASTBURN The Daily News ​ ​ ​Updated

TEXAS CITY

A property owners association meeting of Lago Mar homeowners and developer Land Tejas on Tuesday turned into a shouting match when residents didn’t receive satisfactory answers about fees added to their end-of-year assessments.

That’s according to accounts of the meeting by two households present and online descriptions by others. Attendees complained that instead of getting their questions answered about why they were paying a $300 beach club fee to use the as-yet-unopened Lago Mar Crystal Lagoon, they were silenced and told to watch a promotional video for the lagoon instead.

The 12-acre lagoon with white-sand beaches, clubhouse and amenities is underway at Lago Mar, a 2,033-acre community on Interstate 45, developed by Land Tejas and defined by two main entrances — Exit 16/Holland Road and at Lago Mar Boulevard. Lago Mar eventually will feature 4,400 homes and more than 14,000 residents when it’s built out, developers have said.

One resident described the vibe at the meeting as less than friendly, with security guards dressed in brown-and-khaki uniforms flanking property owners association board members onstage.

Representatives of Land Tejas could not be reached on Friday. A Lago Mar employee declined to comment on the meeting.

Homeowners attempting to record the meeting were told by security guards to turn off their recording devices because the meeting was private, said Tammy Rose, a homeowner, and others.

Klaas and Dorothy Tadema, a retired couple married more than 50 years, were among the disgruntled homeowners. In addition to $1,630 levied in fees at the end of December, they also were billed for $1,400 in legal fees for a dispute with the association over how they planted their flower beds, the Tademas said.

The association last year rejected the Tademas’ plan for landscaping their yard, submitted with the required $25 fee. After that, the couple was sued for non-compliance. They’ve removed the offending pansies, roses, geraniums and gardenias from their yard, but the lawsuit remains active. Those plants did not appear on the approved list of landscaping plants, according to the association.

The Tademas declined paying the legal fee as of Jan. 11, the date of their second notice, explaining why in a letter written by Klaas Tadema.

As for paying a $300 membership to use the Crystal Lagoon, Dorothy, disabled from a spinal surgery, and Klaas said they don’t even swim.

The annual meeting, held at Santa Fe Junior High School, started at 7 p.m. and ended at 8:30 when those who hadn’t left already were herded out of the building, homeowners said, because officers of the association said the building was only reserved for that long.

The officers in charge were Rachel Gwin, community development coordinator for Land Tejas Companies and president of the association board; Tim Johnson, director of community sales and marketing for Land Tejas, vice-president; and Linda Houston, secretary-treasurer.

The Property Owners Association of Lago Mar was established in 2015 and is managed by Associa Principal Management Group of Houston.

A letter announcing the assessment of end-of-year fees arrived at the Tadema house the day after Christmas, explaining that the association had worked hard to determine the needs of the community and the amount of annual fees needed to run the association in 2020.

The $750 maintenance fee would remain the same, the letter said, as well as a $180 annual charge to BDS Alarms, a service Klaas Tadema said he does not use. In addition, homeowners were charged for the $300 beach club membership and a $400 gated-section fee.

“That’s a fee for living behind gates they haven’t activated yet,” Klaas Tadema said.

His neighbor Tammy Rose agreed. The gates are rarely closed and security personnel in the community are a rare sight, Rose said.

As for Tuesday’s meeting, Rose, a professional videographer, was told she couldn’t film it and described the meeting as “a disaster.”

“People were upset about the fees, and they were upset because they’d been told the lagoon was going to be open year ‘round. Then they said it would be open May through October,” Rose said.

Rose championed her neighbors, the Tademas, on her video blog in December, telling the story of Lago Mar’s flower bed lawsuit against them.

Nonetheless, the Tademas, who moved to Lago Mar in December 2017 after their Dickinson home was destroyed in Hurricane Harvey, remain in fear of possibly losing their home in the legal tussle, they said.

Their daughter, Taanya McNeil of Dickinson, is angry, she said. Her father, a retired math teacher, and her mother, who worked as a nurse, were just looking for some peace and a quiet place to live when they came to Lago Mar, she said.

“My mother is a green thumb,” McNeil said. “My dad set aside some money for her to plant flowers at their new house. He even hired a professional landscaper.”

Klaas Tadema, who hadn’t lived in a covenanted community before, said he understood that adding a structure to his lot, something of architectural significance, would require permission from the homeowners association.

“I hardly thought that would be applicable to flower beds,”he said.

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