Township to review convenant cases
The Woodlands Township president will review all legal actions taken by the Development Standards Committee, and extraordinary or costly legal cases will be brought to the township board for approval.
As part of the transition from the Community Associations of The Woodlands to The Woodlands Township, the governing body inherited covenants administration. The DSC is an appeals and policy making board for covenants in older villages in The Woodlands and now is appointed by the township board.
My concern is that the lawsuits are done in the name of the township," said Nelda Luce Blair, chairwoman of the township appointed by the township board. We will obtain board approval for cases out of the ordinary nature or above the general manager's spending limits."
The DSC committee will have control over routine legal matters, which may include liens filed on home for mowing lawns or compromises reached on repair. But if cases are sent to the district court for legal action or are expected to lead to a long, protracted legal battles, the township board will get involved.
As a case in point, Board Member Peggy Hausman cited the case of Charles Sternau, a Panther Creek resident who was served with a temporary restraining order on Christmas Eve 2008 over a request to cut down trees that he felt were threatening his home. The DSC denied the request and filed the case in district court to prevent the homeowner from cutting the trees down. Sternau was order to appear in court Jan. 2, 2009.
Hausman said this was an abuse of the DSC's power.
We don't have any say so in the pen the DSC uses?" asked Haumsan. I don't want to see this authority that they have in ink because someone called a board member a pinhead."
Board member Alex Sutton said that the step may not be necessary because the township has the power to appoint or dismiss members of the DSC. As a separate body, the DSC has the ability to work outside political pressures put on the township board.
You are turning this board into the DSC," Sutton said.
Mike Page, attorney for the township board, said the township may not have the legal authority to overrule DSC decisions, since that committee is given the legal power to decide covenants issues. The township has no authority over the covenants, since these are legal restrictions on the land and property.
Under the township board's decision, unusually or costly cases will be brought to the board for approval. In the meantime, Don Norrell, president and general manager of the township will review all legal actions taken by the DSC. When he was general manager of the Community Associations of The Woodlands, Norrell was given similar authority.
While the older villages are part of the DSC, covenants in the newer villages are handled by the Development Review Committee, a body appointed by The Woodlands Development Co. The DSC and the DRC are scheduled to discuss a proposal this month that would allow the DSC to handle all existing residential homes in the Woodlands, while leaving the DRC to handle commercial properties and undeveloped land.
The Development Standards Committee
The DSC is an appeal and policy making body for renovations in Grogan's Mill, Panther Creek, Cochran's Crossing and Indian Springs east of Falconwing.
The seven member board is appointed by the township and the developer. They meet the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 5:30 at The Woodlands Township Service Center, 2201 Lake Woodlands Drive.
For more information, contact (281) 210-3800.
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