Wilbur the Pig’s family had to spend thousands of dollars defending their pet pig. So did the Harris County, Texas HOA, which did everything it could to have Wilbur thrown to the wolves. Wilbur is a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, an extremely intelligent species which has been bred as housepets. Tens of thousands of pig owners say they make marvelous companions.
But The Thicket at Cypresswood Community Improvement Association thought otherwise. Just the thought that the Alex Sardo family was keeping a non-traditional pet in their home threw the HOA into histrionics. Threats to sue, threats to poison, threats of vandalism, threats to seize the Sardo home and sell it at auction.
Wilbur finally got his day in court, and for once a District Court Judge was not friendly to an HOA. He ruled that the evidence was clear that this breed of pig is definitely considered a household pet. But Judge Mike Engelhart went further. He warned that Homeowners Associations have a responsibility not to infringe too much on homeowners’ use of their land. He said it’s time to set a precedent: that Homeowners Associations cannot micromanage their residents behavior.
There was obvious pissing and moaning on the HOA side of the room. There’s no word on whether the Sardo family will be awarded legal fees. It will be a tragedy if they don’t get back every dime in this stupid dispute. It would also be true justice if a special assessment had to be levied against the whole neighborhood to pay for the wasted legal expenses.
Sadly, this won’t be the end of the story. Beware the “neighborhood nazi.” The Sardo family is going to be made just as miserable as this HOA dares.
All of us who were “rooting” for Wilbur are relieved, and some of
us are jubilant. This is another very sad case of an HOA
run amuck. My husband and I are retired. I spent many years
as an officer and a director in an HOA comprised of 2500
homes. We were totally self-managed. In my twenty something
years of service I saw the best of the best and the worst of
the worst, but it could have been far worse if we has allowed
ourselves to be taken over by a “management” company or
if we had succumbed to a fanatic who has managed to come
on board to push for their own agenda. HOAs, if properly
and reasonably managed, can work together to solve
mutual problems with other neighborhoods in the same
area, but they can also succumb to the fanatic mentality
of management associations whose sole motive is
profit and for whom “stirring the pot” generates revenue…
for themselves and for attorneys.
We recently moved to another neighborhood within Harris
County but outside of Houston in Taylor Lake Village,
near Seabrook. Taylor Lake Village itself is a very
well run (mostly staffed by volunteers) entity of
approximately 4,000 people in different subdivisions.
Sadly, we chose to purchase a home (where we would
like to spend the rest of our remaining years) in a
very small enclave of less than fifty homes that we have
discovered is a little kingdom-fiefdom for the original
in-residence developer who obviously, from all of the
original documents, including the restrictive covenants,
intended to get up every morning, try on his crown,
and survey his subjects and all he beholds.
The deed restrictions are 26 single spaced pages
describing what his subjects must and must not
do in order to be allowed to live here. The major
flat is that he makes it up as he goes along.
You cannot take the covenants at face value
because if he discerns that he would rather that
you do or not do a particular thing (like planting a
single small tree at the rear of your property) he
will decide that it is in his power to move against
you although this transgression is not mentioned
anywhere in the covenants.
The rest of this horror story should probably be on
“Believe it or Not”. We moved in less than ninety
days ago and are already handling everything through
an attorney for our own protection. If anyone had
ever come to me with this story I would have sworn
they either had an overactive imagination or
drank too much. We very well may end up in
court. I hope not, but the reality is that we can
either take that route or spend the rest of our
years bowing down and kissing the hem of his
Patricia W. Williams
(Mrs. John M. Williams)
1223 Bluebonnet Drive
Seabrook Texas 77586
Believe me, please, when I say it would be cheaper to move than to go to court! You might lose a down payment by moving, but by going to court you’ll be putting a half dozen kids (the lawyer’s) through college. Even worse, those kids might go to law school!