Neighbors fear neglected house a health hazard

By Chuck McCollough  
Article Courtesy of San Antonio Express-News  
Posted : 09/04/2002
A house in Stone Oak described as "something out of a Stephen King novel" has been even scarier lately after a slimy swimming pool became a breeding ground for mosquitoes, neighbors said.

Meanwhile, officials with the neighborhood association say there is not much they legally can do about the house, which remains an eyesore.

The house on Flying Arrow street in the Arrowhead subdivision of upscale Stone Oak has deteriorated for years and recently was foreclosed on by its mortgage company, said a Stone Oak official. 

The previous owner was in bankruptcy and forced to move from the house after the foreclosure, said Buz Buckley, office manager for HCWS-POA (property owners association), which manages Stone Oak and Sonterra. 

The Bexar Appraisal District lists the current owner of the house as Morequity Inc. of Riverside, Calif. BAD lists the appraised 2002 value at $172,200, which is up more than $20,000 from two years earlier, despite the rundown condition of the house.

Some neighbors who live near the house say Stone Oak officials have done nothing to remedy the situation, Buckley said his organization couldn't do much because the owner was in bankruptcy.

"Oh, I'm very familiar with the house on Flying Arrow. I've had to live with this situation for about three or four years," Buckley said.

"The house looks like a Halloween house, like something out of a Stephen King novel," he added.

Despite the condition of the house, the association decided not to file a lawsuit.

"We saw no point in filing a suit and wasting the association's money on legal action because the (previous) homeowner was in bankruptcy and the mortgage company already was trying to foreclose and solve the problem," he said.

Buckley said critics are wrong to say the property owners association has done nothing.

"Our association has done what it can and our position to the company that owns the house is that the house must be restored to the standards of the neighborhood," Buckley said. 

The agent for the company that now owns the house was unavailable for comment. 

Richard Craig lives on Flying Arrow and said the association could have done more.

"They can take legal action by first notifying the owner that there are deed restrictions present and give them a time limit to correct the problem," Craig said. "If the owner does not remedy the problem in the time allotted, the POA can enter the property and make the repairs, correct the deed violations and obtain a lien against the property that can be paid off when the property is sold or foreclosed on by another party."

Guy Laturco also lives on Flying Arrow and said neighbors have been frustrated that the rundown house has been allowed to sit in the midst of the otherwise well-kept neighborhood.

"We moved into our house five years ago and that house (the so-called Halloween house) started going downhill about that time," he said.

Laturco called the house an embarrassment to the neighborhood, but quickly added the bigger concern of late has been the swimming pool and the health risk it presents as a place where mosquitoes breed, especially since the West Nile Virus has been in the forefront.

A San Antonio Metropolitan Health district technician visited the house Aug. 23 to put out rat bait and treat its backyard pool for the mosquitoes. 

"I could see mosquitoes flying off the pool," said technician Chris Boubel, who put mineral oil in the pool to keep the insects from multiplying. 

He said the treatment would last four to seven days. 

"I also checked the house for rodent infestation and put out some rat bait around a shed and in a few places in the house when I saw signs of rodent infestation," the health district employee said.

Boubel said he's had complaints about the house going back more than a year. 

"I never could catch the (previous) owner at home, but I finally got a chance to treat the house and pool," he said.