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Deed Restriction Q&A

At our question and answer session for the deed restrictions, we had a lot of great questions from neighbors. We have compiled the questions and put the answers below for your information, as voting on the new deed restrictions continue.

Vehicle Towing

What if a vehicle is towed that is not actually in violation?

The neighborhood does NOT tow vehicles. That is done by the City of Houston and is out of our control. If you have an issue with a vehicle being towed, and you believe it to be invalid, you must contact the city.

Positive signs

What’s the purpose of limiting signs or size of flag poles if they’re positive?

Sign size and number limitations were based on other deed restrictions we reviewed and we found this to be fairly standard. These limitation follow regardless of the message because “positive” is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.

Multiple Family or non-family residents

So how will it be determined that a home has multiple family or non-family residents in it? How would it be resolved?

This is not an easy determination to make. Generally, this is only pursued if there is a gross violation or constant abuse of overcrowding, resulting in unsafe or unsanitary living conditions (signs of consistent overcrowding). Resolution to such violations would depend on the issues.

Architectural and Lot restrictions

Fence Height

How high can new fences be? What materials will be allowed?

The maximum fence height is 8 feet. Cedar or other weather resistant wood fencing and most masonry, brick or steel fences are fine. Since each fence modification should be submitted for approval by the ACC (Architectural Control Committee), alternate materials may be approved on a case by case basis.

Holiday Decorations

What will the time limit be for holiday decorations?

The maximum allowable time is forty-five (45) days prior to the holiday and thirty (30) days after the holiday

Porte Cocheres

If a porte cocheres is approved, can prohibited vehicles be parked under the porte cocheres?

This is a matter of visibility. Generally speaking, the deed restrictions disallow prohibited vehicles that are publicly visible. If inside of a garage or otherwise out of sight, then there shouldn’t be an issue (unless there are other factors at play, such as a junk car that is attracting vermin, which would be a health and safety issue).

House elevation

Can new houses be elevated to prevent flooding if the structure itself does not exceed two stories?

Generally, yes. New construction is submitted for approval by the ACC and considerations would be made as to what might impact the visual continuity of the neighborhood and what would constitute a reasonable height of elevation to mitigate flooding. Pier and Beam foundations can be allowed and have a height limit of thirty-six (36) inches above the ground according to the new deed restrictions. (Article III – Section 2 – 1st paragraph)

Tiny House

Can we have a tiny house like the Houston Astros auction off every year in the backyard?

Yes, as long as the building complies with city building codes and respects all easements in the backyard.

Boats and Trailers in public view time

Why did you settle on 9 days to leave boats, trailers, etc. on the street? Why not five working/week days?

Nine days is equal to a full work week plus two weekends — one on either side. That gives those in violation from Saturday until the following Sunday to come into compliance.

Dying Trees

As the subdivision ages, the trees are also getting old and dying. Is there any provision for a homeowner’s responsibility to remove dead trees or shrubs from their property (if seen from the road)?

Homeowners are required to remove dead or dying trees from their properties and to maintain landscaping. New home construction is required to plant or maintain at least two trees in the front yard of any home. However, current residents may remove old trees without being required to replace them

Enforcement and Violations

Assistance with violations

Why doesn’t someone come and offer help to come into code instead of a letter saying we’re in violation? If they’re employed by HOA, they can assist on behalf of the HOA and Forest West.

The neighborhood association is an organization primarily of enforcement. It is made up of volunteers and we have very limited resources. If you require assistance, there are plenty of support organizations in Houston that can help, and there are always your friends and immediate neighbors.

Deed Restriction enforcement

How do we ensure fair and consistent enforcement of Deed Restrictions?

Reporting of deed restrictions is based on volunteers within our neighborhood to report violations, whether they are a resident, board or committee member. The FWCIA and the ACC make a best effort to review each violation and validate that there is in fact a violation. From there, we have a process to allow fair warning and also to allow a neighbor to seek an audience with the board. You can see this listed in Article VI of the new proposed deed restrictions. The existing deed restrictions do not go into as much detail.

How are deed restrictions going to be enforced?

A mailed notice is initially sent to the owner of the residence to correct the issue. The amount of time allowed to correct the action will depend on the situation, and will be stated in the letter asking for the violation to be corrected. If the violation has not been corrected by the allowed time or there has been no response for an appeal, the neighborhood board will make a determination on the next corrective action for the violation. This will depend on the situation. If it is a City or State Code that is violated, the board may contact the proper avenues to rectify violations as well.

Unable to correct violations and seeking assistance

If a resident has received a notice of deed restrictions and is not able to make necessary repairs, does the HOA have options to help the homeowner out?

The best thing to do is to talk to the Forest West Community Improvement association (the board) if there is a hardship or a problem with making the necessary repairs. We are usually willing to work with owners in difficult situations to allow more time or flexibility if needed. However, there is no obligation for assistance; The HOA is run by volunteers who are limited with their time. If you require assistance, there are support organizations in Houston that can help, and there are always your friends and immediate neighbors if they are willing to lend a hand.

Grandfathered items

You mentioned grandfathered. Please explain page 12 #4

Anything that is not currently in violation of existing deed restrictions will be considered grandfathered, meaning it will remain acceptable under the new deed restrictions even if there is a new rule against it. The grandfather rule will only apply to existing items not in violation of current deed restrictions. Going forward, any new items (fences, siding, paint, etc.) must follow the new deed restrictions.

Initial Assessment?

Is there going to be an initial assessment of every lot?

No. Violations will be assessed as they currently are today. If there is a concern on grandfathering items that do not violate existing deed restrictions, but could violate the new deed restrictions, we ask that homeowners submit those grandfathered items to the ACC or board.

Annual Maintenance and Community Service Fee

Community Service Fee

How much is the community service fee?

This is a variable fee that is evaluated and determined each fiscal year and is based on total projected expenses for services for the community, divided by the total number of lots. (Tax, insurance, utilities, legal and landscaping)

Why an Equal Maintenance Fee?

Why do you think that we all need the same maintenance fee?

This was discussed in depth and the decision was made based on current practices by other community associations (17) that were reviewed, and our thoughts of general fairness.  We felt that it was fairer for all members to share costs equally, as each lot/home is entitled to the same equal privileges as their neighbors are, without some receiving less or more due to the amount of their fee.

Maintenance Fee break for people over 65

Any break for owners over 65 in maintenance fee?

Currently, we have been advised by our attorneys that this would be considered discrimination, and therefore cannot be considered.

Maintenance Fee Cap

Handout reads:  Initial maintenance fee would be $45/yr.  Is there a cap?  Booklet states-p.17 #2-unless modified as provided herein.  What are the limits?

The cap is 5% per year.  This would first be proposed by the board and then presented to the homeowners as a whole. Homeowners would then have the voice and ability to disapprove of the proposed increase (or decrease).  Specifics regarding time frames for notices to be given and number of votes needed to disapprove of the recommended increase (or decrease) can be found on p.19 #8.

Miscellaneous questions

Real Estate Interests

Which board members are engaged in or employed by the real estate industry?

No board members are currently employed by the real estate industry. There is one member of the ACC (Architectural Control Committee) that is a realtor. The number of members of the ACC fluctuates a bit, but there are currently seven active members.

Secret Voting ballot

Why wasn’t the voting process done according to the laws by secret ballot?

We have verified with our legal representative, as well as a second law office, and there is no requirement for a secret ballot for voting ballots of the deed restrictions. We are following instructions per the attorneys’ guidelines and instructions.

Lawyer Name

Will you share the name of “The Lawyer”?

We have sought counsel with multiple law firms on reviewing the new deed restrictions and the process. The name of the lawyer is not relevant to deed restriction questions. Please note that if you inquire of one of the law firms directly, concerning Forest West matters, and it requires the Lawyers time to respond/ answer questions, the FWCIA may be charged for the time with the lawyer, increasing spending and costs for the year, for which all residents pay. This has already occurred by a resident inquiring directly with our primary law firm at the neighborhood’s expense. To avoid extensive legal fees and costs, we ask that you direct questions to the board and committees, and allow us to collect and consolidate questions and to contact our legal representation with those questions, if necessary.

Volunteers Needed!!!

The Forest West Board has just released the 2017 proposed deed restriction changes, which should be arriving in our mailboxes any day. They bring with them exciting changes, but challenges as well. We are looking for neighbors willing to assist in the get out the vote efforts. This will include passing out fliers for our Question & Answer session and even going door-to-door to encourage people to VOTE YES!

Anyone interested should email the committee at vote@forestwest.com as soon as possible. We need all the help we can get over the next few months, so please volunteer to help us keep Forest West safe and beautiful for this and future generations.

New Green Space Coming to the Area

On Saturday, July 23, join Mayor Sylvester Turner, Council Member Brenda Stardig, of District A, and the Houston Parks Board in celebrating the demolition of the Oakbrook Apartments with free food, games and giveaways!

The complex at 5353 DeSoto Street has been vacant for years and sits directly along White Oak Bayou Greenway. After the buildings are demolished the property will be turned into open green space and meadows.

Parking will be provided at White Oak Shopping Center at 6644 Antoine Dr. with early shuttle service to the event. You’re encouraged to take the White Oak Bayou Greenway trail to the event from the shopping center or from home (signs will be posted).

Play Date at the Pool

This comes from a Ginny Stogner McDavid who has set up a Play Date for children, at the Forest West Pool. To sign up, you must be a resident with paid up service fees and maintenance fees, be able to take advantage of this opportunity.
Sat, 7-16-16, 9-11 am
Come join me and my kindergartener Jason for some fun in the sun!
We will take advantage of these morning hours and beat the heat. We will bring some drinks and snacks, and his water guns! If you have not already completed your pool application, click here.
Just drop it off during pool hours.  Your guests can come for a fee of $ 5 per guest.  Let us know if you can make it by reaching me on my mobile-832-922-0362.  See you on the 16th!

Garden Club Yard of the Month for July

The Forest West Garden Club is happy to announce that Dan and Anna Mewhinney of 5611 Bough Court have won the Forest West Yard of the Month award for the month of July.  We thank and congratulate them for their efforts and for helping to make Forest West a better place to live.

Great Turnout at the Fourth of July Celebration

We had a great turnout today for our annual July 4th parade.  Thank you all for making our events great.  I especially want to thank HFD Station 50 for leading our parade, walking with us, and giving the kids an opportunity to tour the fire truck.  In addition the mayor’s office sent 3 representatives to join in on the fun.  Thank you Mayor Turner for your support.
If you have pictures from today, please email them to Kendra at kyarbrouc@gmail.com.

Annual Fourth of July Parade Information

The Forest West Civic Committee is excited to host the Annual 4th Of July Parade and Celebration!

Children and families of all ages are encouraged to attend and meet at the community pool at 9:30 am.

Decorate yourself, bicycles, tricycles, or wagons in their very best patriotic attire. Special Guests will include: Houston Fire Department and F.W. Off Duty Officer.  After the parade, please stay and enjoy free food and fun with your neighbors.

Dog Parade Canceled

The civic committee has canceled the dog parade for April 30th.  We apologize to all of you looking forward to this event.

Newsletter Submissions

Newsletter submissions and articles for the remainder of 2016 are due as follows:

For May 2016 edition – submissions due by Sunday, April 17, 11:59pm
For Sept 2016 edition – submissions due by Sunday, Sept 11, 11:59pm
For Dec 2016 edition – submissions due by Sunday, Nov 20, 11:59pm
For Jan 2017 edition – submissions due by Sunday, Dec 18, 11:59pm

If residents have any summer jobs to post, or students who will be looking for summer work, they should submit classifieds to the upcoming May issue.

Birth announcements, celebrations, and poetry are also very welcome additions to the newsletter. Please indicate how you would like to be credited in the newsletter. (Examples: Mark W., resident 10 yrs ; Mark W. ; M. Williams)

 

Reminder About Heavy Trash

Some of you have your Heavy Trash curbside. You could be ticketed, if the City came through the neighborhood looking for violations.

Our last pickup was for Tree Waste only.

Your next scheduled pickup for Heavy Trash is April. 28, 2016.

This means your neighbors will have to look at your items curbside for quite a long time. Please. if you are able, bring it back up to your home and keep it out of sight until next month’s pick up.

In case you are confused as to our pick up days please go to: our garbage calendar page where you will find the City Schedule listed.

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