Oak Forest homeowner slapped with $200K fine in fight over big rig

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by Sherry Williams / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 7:37 AM

HOUSTON — A homeowner on the northwest side has a big problem with his big rig. Neighbors took him to court because of where he parks the cab of his 18 wheeler. The next thing he knew, the city hit him with a $200,000 fine.

Darrel Gashette has always parked his big rig in the driveway of the home in the Oak Forest subdivision where he’s lived in since 1999. About a year ago, he got new neighbors and that is when the fighting began.

“This was the first letter they sent me that said I was in violation of deed restrictions,” Gashette said.

Gashette made an extra wide driveway to accommodate the cab of his 18-wheeler, but still, that wasn’t good enough.

“I don’t like it on the street for fear of other people’s safety. It’s a big black truck. Somebody could run into it at night,” he said.

Two of his neighbors complained to the city attorney saying it was in violation of deed restrictions, and after months of fighting, the city slapped the homeowner with a huge fine.

“Two hundred and two thousand dollars. They wanted a thousand dollars a day for every day since the complaint was filed,” Gashette said. “I’m on the road. I’m a truck driver. I probably wasn’t home 200 days last year.”

After challenging the fines, the court just agreed to waive them, but Gashette cannot park in his driveway any more. Ironically he says he was told he can legally park on the street, and that’s what he plans to do.

Gashette says all of this is over outdated deed restrictions, which still contain a surprising provision.

“Which you’ll appreciate for racial restrictions. Says none of the lots shown shall be used, owned or occupied by any person other than the Caucasian race.”

We tried to talk to the neighbors who filed the complaint but no one was home. However, we found many others who say Gashette’s truck is not a problem.

“I thought it was somebody wasn’t happy that a truck driver lived in the same neighborhood as me. That’s what it sounded like to me,” said Apple Comunale. “It’s really not a problem at all. Never has been for me and I live directly across the street.”

Gashette still has to pay $8,000 in court costs and attorneys fees for what he feels is an unfair judgment brought, not by his Homeowner’s Association, but by adversarial neighbors. He says he is thinking about filing an appeal.

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