Greg Sergesketter Director 815 Elk Run Circle 713.234.0604
July 17, 2021
Changes Coming to Our ACC
The New Law and Its Consequences At the urging of the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), the Texas Legislature passed SB 1588, which was signed into law last month. SB 1588 focuses on HOAs such as Memorial Thicket. Among the provisions contained in the bill, one directly affects MTHA’s Architectural Control Committee (ACC). Under our by-laws, the Vice President of Landscaping / Architectural Control (Operations) is the Chair of the ACC and oversees its operations. The ACC is also composed of other homeowners who have volunteered their time to serve. Under the new law, effective as of September 1st no board member, no spouse of a board member and no family member living in the house of a board member may be on the ACC. In essence, this means that we will have to totally reconstitute our ACC in the next 45 days. Given that our governing documents have been in place for decades and have served us well, it is disappointing that we now have to go through this process, which overall will be detrimental to the operation of our neighborhood. We are now faced with two options: (1) find qualified homeowners who are ready, willing and able to serve on the ACC and take on the duties required or (2) hire a management company for the sole purpose of administering the ACC. As a community, we have always been reluctant to insert a third party between neighbors. We always thought it better to have neighbors talking to neighbors to work out issues. We were fortunate for many years to have Rudy Lippert and more recently Fred Plummer take the lead on the ACC work. Each served for well over a decade. Now we need to find homeowners willing to step up. Why Do We Have an ACC? The ACC helps keep Memorial Thicket visually pleasing, thereby maintaining both curb appeal and property values. The ACC was instrumental in overseeing the rebuilding after the unprecedented releases from Addicks and Barkers Reservoirs flooded every home in Memorial Thicket four years ago next month. The ACC is responsible for upholding and ensuring the design standards described in our governing documents are followed. The ACC seeks to be the voice in protecting all homeowners from changes or deterioration that would adversely affect property values and the general aesthetic quality of Memorial Thicket. The ACC exists to help preserve and maintain the look of Memorial Thicket – one of the primary reasons we bought our Memorial Thicket homes. The reason all of us decided to make Memorial Thicket our home was based on more than just the home itself. The appeal of the neighborhood was a determining factor; Memorial Thicket was the place where we wanted to live. Being on the ACC When each of us purchased our homes in Memorial Thicket, we also entered into a contractual relationship with Memorial Thicket HOA and its members concerning architectural standards and guidelines. The ACC is the committee that oversees this function. I will be the first to admit that being on the ACC is not for the faint of heart. It is easy when a neighbor presents a design that is thoughtful, planned and has considered our parameters; it is, however, never easy to tell a neighbor that their idea cannot be approved and will, at a minimum, have to be revised. It’s also up to the ACC to identify and prevent issues before they become a source of complaints from our fellow neighbors. Even then, some complain this is petty stuff (such as putting trash out early), but where is the line to be drawn between petty stuff and big stuff? And, as the one broken window theory goes, not addressing “petty” stuff can turn into big stuff. As a member of the ACC, you represent and are the voice for over 150 other homeowners. It’s sometimes hard to remember that guiding principle when a homeowner wants approval (or has already moved forward without approval) of a project that doesn’t meet the neighborhood’s standards. When the homeowner strongly pushes back, it is tempting to take the easier path and approve the project. That, however, does not serve the best interests of, and does a disservice to, all the homeowners you represent. As a member of the ACC, you wear a different hat, which I generally don’t like to put on. It is not the next-door neighbor friend hat. Wearing the ACC hat can make you the subject of personal attacks and the slings and arrows from homeowners and contractors. So it does take a mindset to understand that differentiation and be able to compartmentalize. I am noting the unvarnished truth so not only those considering volunteering have their eyes wide open going in, but also our whole community understands the two-way street. The Path Forward As noted above, MTHA has less than 45 days to re-form the ACC. MTHA’s President, Brenda Holden, has started the process of vetting management companies if we are not able to find qualified homeowners to serve on the ACC. Of course, if we do have to go this route, there will be an additional cost to the HOA. The Board would appreciate your thoughts on the path forward.
Old Stone Trail Lift Station Update
Pursuant to a notice from the City of Houston Public Works, a virtual meeting was held on July 8, 2021 to discuss the "Force Main Renewal and Replacement for Plum Creek, Tanya Circle, and Old Stone Trail". The Old Stone Trail Wastewater Lift Station is located at the southeast corner of the cul-de-sac of Old Stone Trail next to the field. The station lifts the wastewater coming out of Memorial Thicket to a higher level so it can gravity/pressure feed across Buffalo Bayou to the MUD 107 lift station and from there on to the Turkey Creek wastewater treatment facility. The project will replace the 8" and 10" forced mains from Old Stone Trail and Tanya Circle, respectively, that have been in place since 1975. The Old Stone Trail line is approximately 700' and Tanya Circle is approximately 2,200' in length. This replacement will be done via direct drilling and will be trenchless. The current line heads south from Old Stone Trail under the field and crosses the bayou above ground. The new line will go under the bayou and the old line will be removed. The start of the project will be at the Tanya Circle station starting July 28th. Old Stone Trail will be the end of the project, which should be completed this fall. The total project cost is $1.1 million and will be done by Vaca Underground Utilities, Inc.
Harris County Precinct Three Mowers cutting all of the field behind Memorial Thicket yesterday
Informational Town Hall Meeting on Crime Council Member Greg Travis brought together Thursday night the highest ranking law enforcement officers from our region including the HPD Chief, the HPD Westside and Midwest Commanders, the HPOU head, the Constable for Precinct 5, Major for the Harris County Sheriff, the regional head for Texas DPS, the FBI Special Agent in Charge for the region and the head of CrimeStoppers. Even the HFD chief was there. The meeting was well attended at the Westin Hotel. The common theme was crime was up and a large focus was on the criminal court judges releasing more violent criminals onto our streets with multiple bonds. The Houston Chronicle’s frontpage headline yesterday noted, “Man accused in death of ex was out on 7 bonds”. Unfortunately, this has become much more common. The number of homicides has increased 42% this year over 2020. The number of cases outstanding in the court system is 100,000 with over half being felonies. When violent criminals are released back onto our city streets multiple times on little or no bond – violent crime will go up. Layer on top of that is Commissioners' Court voting 3-2 to cut the funding for the Harris County constables by over $10 million since the beginning of this year. If this is of concern to you, one simple action you can take is to make an informed vote in the primary and general elections next year.
Trash at the Curb
Once again, a reminder that under our contract with Texas Pride, household refuse will be picked up at your gate (provided it is not locked or a dog is not inside), garage door or back door. There is no need to place it at the curb as we pay extra so you don't have to. We would appreciate it if you did not place household refuse at the curb as it detracts from our neighborhood. The contract does require all yard waste and heavy trash to be placed at the curb for collection. No trash should be at the curb until Monday or Thursday night at the earliest. The goal is to minimize the amount of time that unsightly trash is being left at the curb. Please ensure that your yard contractor does not leave your yard waste at the curb. They should take your yard waste with them unless you are willing to have them place it out of sight until the night before scheduled pickup.