As a community, we have made several improvements over the past several years and the SCO Board has been focused on better understanding our community areas of concern, prioritizing their importance to the residents, maintaining property and resale values and ensuring SCO remains a desirable place to live and raise our families.
As we have all seen, many of the common area fences have been in disrepair and not built with consistency in look, materials, color, etc. Additionally, many of the originally-constructed pillars are leaning dangerously. The fencing issue has been a problem for a long time and unfortunately is not going to go away without action and must be addressed as soon as possible. In February of 2017, a committee of residents was formed to assist the board in surveying homeowners with common-area fences, coming up with recommendations for materials and meeting with vendors. The committee made their recommendation in January 2018.
The first, crucial step was for these, roughly, 70 homeowners to deed over ownership of the fences to the HOA. One stipulation of the agreements was that 100% participation was necessary for them to be valid, but 7 homeowners have yet to sign the agreements. In the meantime, the fences have continued to deteriorate and building materials have increased in price. At the October board meeting, the Board voted and approved a revised agreement not requiring the 100% participation, so that the project could move forward.
The next step will be to explore funding options. Once all the finances have been worked out, the Board will be conducting a special meeting to share all of the information. We are anticipating an early 2019timeframe for this meeting.
If it is determined that a Special Assessment and/or financing is necessary to complete the project, a vote of the Members will be required. We hope to have the vote in February/March at a final Special Meeting. Additionally, the board, committee members and neighbors will be going door to door to answer questions and collecting absentee ballots for your convenience if you cannot attend the meeting. If approved, we hope to start installation late Spring.
Please visit our new website and attend our monthly HOA meetings, for updates on the fencing project.
Below are some of the commonly asked questions:
- What is the latest on the fences? In April, the 70 residents with fences along Fellowship and TC Jester were given agreements turning over ownership/maintenance of their common-area fences to the HOA. One of the requirements on the agreement is 100% participation. As of 9/22/18, 7 homeowners have declined to sign the agreements as written. Therefore, SCOCIA has obtained a revised agreement from our attorney, which does not require 100% participation. We are in the process of contacting the roughly 90% who signed the original agreements to sign the revised agreement so we can move forward with the project. The deed transfer will not be official until funds have been secured, a decision has been made on how to fund (possibly a vote of the membership) and each agreement has been filed with the county clerk.
- What would be the total cost of replacing the fences with the concrete fences, which was the recommendation of the Fence Committee?To replace the fences along TC Jester and Fellowship (roughly 7700 linear feet) are estimated to be $800k-$900k.
- Why can’t we replace the fences with a less expensive material, like wood? The committee took all factors into consideration-most importantly aesthetics and long term maintenance. Over a 20 year span, wood ended up being the most expensive option. The concrete fencing is virtually maintenance-free and will last 30-40 years.
- Can we just plant shrubs/ivy? We have had 3 separate landscaping companies look and all agree that there is not enough space to maintain vegetation. Ivy destroys wood.
- Why aren’t we making the people fix their own fences? Unfortunately, our deed restrictions are somewhat vague, which makes the situation difficult to enforce. Additionally, past boards have not enforced the restrictions which have resulted in different sizes, colors, shapes, etc. Some, but not all, residents have constructed their replacement fences “in like”, but many have chosen to construct to their own liking. Most HOAs own their common-area fences because of similar type issues that we are experiencing.
- Why don’t we change the deed restrictions? We are still considering changing the deed restrictions, which would require a vote of the membership. Even if we were able to change them, all of these fences would be grandfathered in, so we would still have different sizes, colors, shapes, etc.
*It is important to keep in mind that the fences in disrepair are not the only problem, particularly on TC Jester. The fences are different sizes, materials, colors and design. The pillars are different colors, styles and different heights. Even if we accomplished making the deed restrictions stricter, they would only apply to new construction of fences. Those fences that were built not “in like” will be grandfathered in and the desire to have consistency will be a moot point. It is especially noticeable now that the garden homes and The Chancel have replaced their fences.
- Why don’t you place liens on these people’s homes that have fences in disrepair? This is an option, but not the wisest. Liens are time consuming and expensive and in the meantime, the problem (fence disrepair) can get worse. HOA funds used to place liens on homes are oftentimes not recovered. If they are, it could take years. Multiple leans on homes in neighborhoods could negatively affect home value, which is the opposite of what SCOCIA is trying to accomplish.
- Why does the board and committee feel it necessary to take over responsibility of the fences? It is obvious by viewing the fence it is time to take action. We are very committed to keeping SCO a desired community. The fences have been in disarray for far too long. It does not help matters that we now have streetlights and a major thoroughfare along with apartments being built at Spring Cypress. We have more traffic, thus more visibility.
- I don’t have an impacted fence, so why should I have to pay? All residents have a vested interest in this fence project. The fences are the windows to our community and we all want to maintain our property value. TC Jester (and to some extent, Fellowship) is the main entrance/cross street to the majority of our sections and the most-often traveled street utilized by prospective homeowners. These fences are no different than the clubhouse, landscaping, pools, etc. They are part of our neighborhood amenities. Case in point, there are 3 communities down TC Jester that have recently replaced their common area fences.
- How does SCOCIA propose paying for the fences? There are multiple options that are being explored. We could raise the dues 10-15% the next three years. Another option is to propose a Special Assessment for the full amount, which would not require taking out a loan (This is what the Chancel did). We could also have a smaller assessment combined with financing the remainder. These last 2 options would require a majority vote of the neighborhood.
- Can we require the homeowners with common-area fences to pay a higher assessment? No, Our governing documents only allow for uniform assessments, although we are considering asking these homeowners to make a one-time “voluntary” payment, in addition to any assessment that might pass a majority vote of the neighborhood. We have already begun the process and the majority are willing to pay more.
- Is it legal for an HOA to take out a loan? Yes, and it’s quite common for projects of this scope. All 3 of our current banks work with HOAs on loans for community improvement projects. The Village (garden homes in front of SCO) took out a loan for their fencing and Memorial Northwest just passed a $4M project/loan for pool/park/splashpad construction.
- If I have a common-area fence, what should I do in the meantime? We understand the hesitation to spend money replacing your entire fence, but it is still your responsibility, per Deed Restrictions, to maintain your fences. Please straighten leaning pickets, replace missing ones and nail any loose boards ASAP! We appreciate your cooperation in the matter until the project is completed. The soonest that this project could be started is late Spring.
- Are we only considering TC Jester and Fellowship? No! This is the first phase in a multi-year project. It is our desire to eventually replace all common area fences to ensure consistency and a uniform, well-maintained look. We have gathered pricing to replace other fences along Spring Cypress, Louetta, Klein Church, to name a few. This is a project that the entire community will benefit from.