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Harvey victims say HOA rules are holding up recovery

It’s been nearly six months since Hurricane Harvey and much of the Houston area is still recovering.

In some cases, homeowners say HOA rules are their biggest hurdles as they try and rebuild their lives.

“We lived here for 43 years,” said Tony Cernosek of Meyerland. He and his wife raised three sons in the home that used to stand on the lot where we met him.

They decided to demolish and rebuild thanks to what three feet of water did to it.

“We just want to get started, get the home built, and get our lives back,” said Cernosek.

They’ve spent thousands of dollars on a new home plan. It should already be under construction on their longtime lot; but it isn’t, they say, thanks to Meyerland’s HOA.

“There are 22 sections that have different deed restrictions,” said Cernosek.

For instance, the front-facing carport they want to replicate is no longer acceptable in their section.

Although we counted at least three homes with front-facing carports or garages right around the corner.

“You would think they would do everything they could to help people rebuild,” said Cernosek.

KHOU 11 News reached out to the Meyerland Community Improvement Association.

Its General Manager said the HOA sympathizes with homeowners and is working on homogenizing rules.

“With all that said, the Association Board cannot override the lot owner voted restrictions - only new revised restrictions can change them,” Amy Hoechstette wrote in an email.

Until that happens, new projects are at the mercy of old rules.

“It’s not ideal,” said Cernosek.

Here’s the full statement from the Meyerland Community Improvement Association:

"Meyerland is one of the largest homeowners associations in Houston and was established in 1954. Strong deed restrictions are what have made the neighborhood successful for nearly 65 years. Deed restrictions, and subsequent updates, are voted upon by the lot owners of each section (Meyerland has 22 sets of these restrictions) and the deed restrictions are considered the law of the land. These rules are filed and recorded with the County. Furthermore, the approval/denial of any construction plans in many sets (specifically the set pertaining to at least one of the homeowners you spoke to) are still controlled by an independent separate entity established in 1954- the Meyerland Architectural Control Committee. With all that said, the Association Board cannot override the lot owner voted restrictions - only new revised restrictions can change them.

The Association recognizes that construction methods, style, materials, etc. have changed and therefore is working very hard to promote the updating of the deed restrictions that reflect current construction and lot use. Bear in mind however, the lot owners are the only ones that can make this change happen by signing the new restrictions. The new set would allow greater flexibility in construction and lot use and will likely solve the problems these homeowners are faced with. There are many homeowners waiting for these restrictions to be signed so that they can move forward with their projects as well.

We all sympathize with the homeowners you spoke to and many others who are feeling the same way as we are approached with plans that cannot currently be approved. The Association Board and staff do our best to help all of our homeowners achieve the look and use they want but we cannot change or ignore the deed restrictions. The best way to assist these homeowners is for their section to pass the new restrictions put before them almost a month ago.

Thank you for your attention to the plight of our homeowners, Amy Hoechstetter, CMCA, AMS Meyerland General Manager"

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