guest blog by Deborah Goonan
A few months ago, a County Judge dismissed a case brought by Highlands of McKamy HOA against the Toras Chaim congregation. The small Orthodox Jewish congregation thought its battle was over, and then the City of Dallas sued the congregation over permit violations. That case is still pending.
Now, the same HOA community is back in the news, this time regarding a dispute between a homeowner and the Association over a brick wall that was inexplicably torn down, without notice, from the rear border of his yard. That left the affected homeowner’s back yard wide open to a busy road and nearby railroad tracks, significantly increasing noise levels and eliminating privacy.
It seems the brick wall was in need of repair, and the Board, led at the time by former President David Schneider, made the hasty decision to tear it down, rather than attempting to shore it up.
Kind of a metaphor for how all disputes were handled by Schneider and his allies.
The affected homeowner had been trying to sell his house, but that attempt was unsuccessful. Perhaps the gaping hole in the barrier wall is the primary reason the house remains unsold?
According to the report in the Dallas Observer, before a majority of homeowners recalled Schneider from the Board, they also forced a $10,000 cap on the budget, in order to limit the HOA’s exposure to legal expenses over the unpopular decision to sue the Toras Chaim. That led to a lack of funds to replace the wall after it was torn down nearly a year ago.
In the meantime, the City of Dallas was about to levy fines because the wall has not yet been replaced. Fortunately, the Dallas Observer reports that the new Board has authorized an emergency repair, and the wall will soon be rebuilt.
Once again, we are reminded that one rogue Board member and a few allies can wreak plenty of havoc in a once peaceful and harmonious HOA community. Even an HOA with minimal common areas and low HOA assessments can run into trouble and considerable expense. A personal dispute that should have stayed between neighbors of two residences has become a source of ongoing strife for the entire HOA. A contentious and questionable election led to a recall that divided the community.
Every member of the Highlands of McKamy Association had to pay for legal expenses for what amounted to a frivolous lawsuit aimed at denying First Amendment rights and religious freedom. Now the HOA also has to pay to replace a 9-ft. tall brick wall that might have been saved rather than torn down. Oh, and yet another homeowner has just filed suit against Schneider’s former HOA Board, claiming the Board violated its bylaws by awarding a contract to demolish the wall to a single bidder, with no competitive bids.
Please explain to me once again, how do HOAs enhance and improve property values?