Board of Directors Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 04/25/2018  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon a report on property conditions in the Creekwood neighborhood in the Village of Panther Creek;
FISCAL IMPACT:
Approximately $22,000 in property maintenance liens have been filed on 55 properties in the two neighborhoods in the Village of Panther Creek relative to this report. 
BACKGROUND:
At the Board of Directors meeting on March 28, under the agenda item for consideration of matters to be placed on the next month’s meeting, a request was made to have an agenda item to discuss maintenance conditions in the Creekwood neighborhood related to concerns brought forward during Public Comment by a resident in the Village of Panther Creek.  Information on the neighborhood conditions as well as the Township’s abilities and challenges in addressing the resident’s concerns has been prepared.

There are several properties on notice for various violations in the Creekwood neighborhood area of the Village of Panther Creek,  specifically on Maywind Court.

One of the properties specifically referenced is currently in the legal action/ litigation process with the Strong Firm. The violations noted are as follows:
  • Remove debris from entryway (containers broom, chairs, table, etc.), driveway (shopping cart, bicycle, step up ladder, etc.), and right side (ladder, crate, kids pool, wood log, etc.)
  • Store trash containers out of view from the street and the adjacent neighbors
  • Remove one of the basketball goals as only one is permitted on any lot
  • Remove cars parked on the grass
  • Remove or repair disabled vehicle (BMW)
Two other properties specifically referenced is in the violation compliance process and have been served the Second Violation notices and legal notification letters. The violations noted are as follows:
  • Store trash and recycle cart out of public view from the street and neighboring properties
  • Yard maintenance is required
  • Remove miscellaneous debris and yard waste from the property
  • Remove weeds in flower beds and trim bushes
  • No application on file for trash can screen 
  • All equipment, materials, supplies, and appliances must be stored out of view from the street or any adjacent property
  • Remove miscellaneous debris from the front entry way area and the left side of house including empty planter pot
Approximately 200 property violation cases have been filed for this neighborhood area  over the past year, most of which have been resolved.

As of mid March 2018, staff of the Covenant Administration Department has inspected each property on Maywind Court and six (6) Notices of Violation have been filed for various infractions. The Covenants provide property owners 15 days to correct violations after receipt of the notice.  State law then requires a notice providing thirty (30) days to comply, after which time, the civil litigation process is initiated.  

In an effort to bring awareness to the residents in the neighborhood of the importance of proper home maintenance, approximately 260 “Seasonal Spruce Up” Flyers were mailed to the entire neighborhood the week of March 26th.   In addition, the Covenant Administration Revitalization program  hosted a Township Involvement Day on April 21st from 10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. in this area on  N. Birchcane Court. Invitations to this event were mailed to all 262 properties in the neighborhood. The purpose of Involvement Days is to bring awareness to the neighborhood on proper property maintenance requirements and provide resource information and education on the Covenants and Residential Standards.  Other Township departments also participate in Involvement Days providing residents information on the Township's various services and programs.  
 
Another category of complaint received regarding this neighborhood is dogs running at large.  The Township is a special purpose district, not a city government, and the Township’s authority per property covenants is very limited in regard to regulation of pets.  In unincorporated areas such as the Woodlands, state statute places the responsibility for animal control with the county governments.
 
We encourage Woodlands residents who see pets running at large to contact Montgomery County or the Harris Animal Control units depending on their county of residence.  Lt. Swilling with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department (MSCO)  was contacted regarding specific resident concerns in the Creekwood neighborhood and he confirmed that MCSO officers have responded with Animal Control in this address on a couple of occasions.  The sole purpose of the MCSO responding is to protect the Animal Control officers as they are trying to do their jobs.
 
MCSO indicated that any reports of dogs running at large or dangerous animals should be made directly to the Montgomery County Animal Control office as they are the agency that will have to make the aggressive animal case with the courts.  The Township does not issue citations or warrants regarding dogs running at large or vicious dogs as this is a function of the County. 
 
Another neighborhood area referenced in close proximity to the Creekwood neighborhood is the Coralberry, Yewleaf and Tangle Brush area. Approximately 450 violation cases have been processed for this neighborhood area during the past year.

This area was included in the Involvement Day on April 21 mentioned above with approximately 150 invitations to the event mailed to the properties in the Coralberry, Yewleaf and Tanglebrush neighborhoods. The “Seasonal Spruce Up” flyer was also mailed to the entire neighborhood. After  Involvement Day and flyers have been mailed, Covenant Administration staff  inspect the neighborhoods to follow up with enforcement action as needed. The Involvement Day event and flyer will encourage residents to take steps to remediate property maintenance issues. Currently there is one property being actively maintained by the Township through the revitalization program.
 
 Another area of concern presented to the Township relates to the number of properties in the neighborhood that appear to be rentals.  The Township does not have jurisdiction on property rentals or the ability to regulate the number of rentals allowed in a neighborhood.  Property owners can rent their property as they determine appropriate.  Property owners may or may not do background checks.   However, property owners must abide by the property Covenants and  Standards whether the property is owner occupied or rental. 

Additionally, in response to questions and complaints on the number of short term rentals in the area (Air BnB's), the Covenants and Residential Standards do not regulate the purchase of homes by any person relative to their intended occupancy of the property.  However, short term rental of homes is regulated by the Standards for the type of rentals typically associated with the Air Bnb model. 
 
Township staff and legal counsel will actively pursue compliance with the Covenants and Residential Standards and continue to monitor this area for covenant violations and if found, will pursue action with the property owner(s) through the compliance notification and civil court process.
RECOMMENDATION:
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