Katyland votes to replace three-person KCIA board
Article Courtesy of The Katy Times

By Linda Du Four - Times Staff 
Posted 7-31-2002

In a four-hour special meeting Monday night, the Katyland Community Improvement Association (KCIA) voted to replace its recently-installed three-member board with their original seven-member board by a 133-74 margin. 

Secretary/treasurer Brenda Barbier and vice president Adrian Gonzales, who recently resigned from his post, were replaced by Robert Owles, Darell Marshall, Steve Grimes, Ethel McTigue, Monty Lester and Doug Worthy. 

President Keith Smith, who called the meeting in order to amend any illegal procedure that may have taken place when the original group was voted out and replaced with the three-member board, was also elected to the new board. 

In April, Barbier, expressing discontent with the KCIA board of directors and the association’s management company, managed to secure 80 proxy votes from Katyland residents. 

With the proxies, Barbier and her supporters mustered enough votes to narrowly win the election and take control of the Board on April 27. The new board then fired its management company, Austin Property, and attorneys. 

At Monday’s meeting, Smith refused to make any accusations in regards to the previous vote count. 

“I know some people think the ballots were tampered with, but I think tonight with the recount we can fix the situation,” he said. 

In a letter mailed to homeowners, Barbier claimed that the call for a new vote was nothing more than a “scheme” to reverse a valid election for more desired results. 

Some KCIA members had become disgruntled with the former three-member board, centered around the fact that Barbier had refused to sign checks to pay Association bills. Barbier cited legal reasons for her actions. 

However, members of the Katyland Ad Hoc Committee, an organization formed by several Katyland residents dissatisfied with the April takeover of the board of directors, supported Smith’s call for a new election. 

In a letter defending Smith’s actions, the committee described the president’s actions as, “in the best interest of all Katyland Homeowners,” noting that attendance and support “is crucial to our community.” 

Also at the meeting, KCIA members decided not to convert to a civic group but to maintain its current status. 

The new board will soon meet to decide on president and other officers of the group. 

Katyland takes new direction

By SANDRA MEINEKE  -  Chronicle correspondent
Article Courtesy of the Houston Chronicle
Published May 29, 2002

"Everything old is new again" might be an appropriate motto for the Katyland Community Improvement Association. 

A new board of directors took office in May, promising a new management style, revised bylaws and a new sense of community in the 425-house subdivision, which includes many rental properties. 

New board members Keith Smith, Adrian Gonzales and Brenda Barbier agree that no foreclosures for unpaid maintenance fees will occur under their tenure. 

The three-member board replaced a seven-member board at a volatile April annual meeting. The new board members live in Katyland, while only one member of the previous board did. 

One of the older subdivisions within Katy, it is bounded by Katyland Drive on the east, Drexel Drive on the west, Franz Road on the north and East 5th Street on the south. 

While the old board chose to hire a property management association and an attorney to handle deed-restriction violations and collect association fees, the new board members immediately dismissed those services and chose to handle business themselves. 

The Katyland association had contracted with Austin Properties, based in Sugar Land, since 1999, said David Rivera, property manager. 

The new board is anti-foreclosure, Rivera said, and the old board saw foreclosure as a tool to collect on unpaid assessments but had not proceeded to take anyone's home. 

Former board president Ralph Bordeleon said the association had never foreclosed on a home, but foreclosure papers had been filed on seven homes in the past year. 

The annual meeting focused, in particular, on a widow, who had become delinquent in her dues because of financial difficulties and who had received a letter threatening foreclosure. 

Smith said the board's first priority was to put a stop to all liens and foreclosure cases, which it did as soon as all the paperwork was transferred from the old board. 

"We are going to go in with a clean slate," Smith said. "There will be no citations. Someone will knock on the door to see what the problem is." 

Said Gonzales: "We will take different actions to keep people in compliance with codes, but we will never take a person's home." 

As part of the new emphasis on community cooperation, Andy Angleton, a local landscaper, has formed a group, with the board's blessing, called "Helping Hands." This group will help trim trees, mow lawns, paint houses and even pay fees for Katyland residents facing hardships because of extenuating circumstances. The annual fee is $125. 

Former board member and Katyland resident Boyd Baker has volunteered to greet new residents moving into the neighborhood. 

"We will be involved with the people," said Smith, who is board president. "We'd like the people to be involved with the board." 

"There are going to be a lot of changes," said Barbier, the secretary-treasurer. "We are giving the community back to the homeowners. Our main priority is to get rid of mandated homeowners association dues and start applying a voluntary civic club method." 

To do this, the bylaws will have to be revised. 

"The board really has a lot of power to do things without asking the neighborhood," Gonzales said. "The bylaws gave them that power." 

The board vice president, Gonzales, whose duties include a quarterly neighborhood newsletter, said property owners will be notified of potential bylaw changes and have an opportunity to comment about them. 

A group of Katyland property owners, calling themselves an oversight committee, will make sure of that. And that's OK with the new board. 

"A lot of people are concerned and upset," Gonzales said. "They have a lot of anger about our past board and think this board will be no different. In actuality, the entire neighborhood should be an oversight committee." 

In addition to the changes in management procedures and bylaws, the board will look at adding another day of trash service to the neighborhood. 

Previously $30,000 of the $51,000 collected annually in fees went to pay the property management association and the attorney. Since those services are no longer being used, the new board will have some extra funds to provide additional neighborhood services. 

Board meetings will be the third Thursday of each month at the clubhouse. Committees are forming. 

Katyland Homeowner Board booted
By Linda Du Four 
Times Staff
April 24, 2002

It was “out with the old and in with the new” for the Katyland Community Improvement Association homeowners group following Monday night’s heated annual meeting. 

Brenda Barbier, Keith Smith and Adrian Gonzalez took control after a vote was cast not only for new directors, but to reduce the present board from seven to three members. 

Friction between Katyland homeowners and the now former Association board had grown over recent weeks following a special homeowner-called meeting, where board members were accused of allowing foreclosures on homes involving incidents where yearly fees had not been paid. 

Focusing on this major allegation, Barbier spearheaded the effort to begin campaigning against the present board, and voicing complaints concerning the measures they had taken to help home foreclosures. 

Her secondary plan involved getting rid of the Association’s management group, Austin Properties, fire the HOA attorneys, and amend the present by-laws. With these changes she hoped to get the required neighborhood vote to amend the deed restrictions, in the process, changing the mandatory HOA to a voluntary civic club. 

The meeting had all the markings of a showdown in the crowded Fellowship Hall at Katy First United Methodist Church, as citizens talked out of turn or yelled at those exceeding their allotted time to speak. 

Before the meeting concluded many issues had been discussed, but only the election of officers and the decision to not allow any more foreclosures transpired. 

The still-current board members present at the meeting, Ralph Bordelon, Sharon McConnell, Luigi Angeli, Steve Kaufman and Richard Green, maintained the stance that the foreclosures were not happening in the manner that the accusations implied. But evidence produced indicated that possibly seven homes were near the foreclosure state. 

When the board still denied it, Barbier told the crowd that a woman present at the meeting had just faced the described circumstances. The crowd, however, was not satisfied with her account and demanded a name and address. 

The homeowner in question came forward in tears and asked that her name not be revealed because of the embarrassment to her family. She told the audience that her foreclosure proceedings had started from unpaid dues of over $200 and had now escalated to the point that she could no longer pay them. 

The woman claimed that she started a payment plan to pay her assessment fees and had gotten them to a balance of $300, when she was hit with more dues. 

“It doesn’t matter now…it’s impossible for me to pay them!” she blurted out. 

Kaufman and others appeared to be in shock from her statements, and had to look at her legal paperwork to believe it. That’s when another homeowner suggested that the whole problem stemmed from lack of communication. 

Homeowner John Ward agreed with the assumption, and shared a similar situation when Austin Properties had cited him for a deed restriction problem intended for another person’s address. 

“The board did not even check this. There needs to be accountability for fees assessed,” he said. 

The group then called for the neighborhood to unite. “There are no enemies here,” Gonzales said. “What we need to do is care for each other and our neighborhood.” 

Several members also suggested that the woman who was about to lose her home be helped. Several people shouted in agreement. 

The meeting ended with the new board ready to preside for a year and elect officers. Decisions on what changes will be made concerning dues, the subdivision pool and other Katyland business, is forthcoming. 

Katyland Homeowners Board calls
special overthrow meeting ‘illegal’

Article Courtesy of The KatyTimes online
By Linda Du Four

Times Staff - Members of the Katyland Community Improvement Association Board are calling their recent overthrow “illegal,” following a special meeting last week in which a group of Katyland residents voted to hold an election for new officers to replace the existing homeowner association board. 

Katyland homeowner Brenda Barbier spearheaded the movement to oust the current board, alleging that the Association had become too powerful, citing the Association’s right to file liens for foreclosure against homeowners who do not pay the $120 annual assessment fee. 

Prior to calling the special meeting, Barbier had managed to secure either proxy signatures or votes from more than 200 of the 425 residents in the Katyland subdivision. 

However, the association’s attorney, James Young, said that Barbier did not hold the meeting according to legal guidelines, making any decisions made in that special meeting void. 

Barbier said she is seeking legal counsel to determine if last week’s new election of officers is official, according to the association by-laws. 

But some present and former Katyland association board members say they are more concerned about what they term as misinformation and false statements circulated by Barbier and others to discredit the current board of directors than they are with the legal technicalities of the voting. 

Former board president Larry Roberts and former board member Rev. Boyd Baker said in an interview on Saturday they were particularly concerned with the unsubstantiated allegations that the board members were involved in wrongdoing in the collection, assessment and handling of money. 

“We do everything by the books, with the audits being conducted on an annual basis, as they should. Also, the proposed budget and other business is presented at the meetings as well,” Roberts said. 

Christine Reyna, former board president, attested to that fact. 
“Actually, when we first started really making improvements in Katyland through the Association, an annual audit was performed, which hadn’t been done in 15 years. And the present yearly audit is there for anyone to examine.” 

A background search revealed that in the 1980s funds were embezzled by a former Association bookkeeper, but she was prosecuted in court and made to repay the funds. 

Board member Richard Green said that after checking the Association records, she had finished paying the final compensation amount in 1996.

Roberts thought that Barbier may have been alluding to the previous embezzlement when she was hinting that there may be actions that the present board was trying to hide. He maintained that the present accounting was performed in an honest, accurate manner. 

The Association also addressed the foreclosure issue discussed at the homeowner meeting. 

Barbier and other homeowners claimed there was a procedure utilized by the Association in amassing fees that escalate to such a large sum, it places homeowners in the mercy of a foreclosure. 

This point was totally refuted by Roberts, Baker and Reyna. 
Roberts explained that homeowners are given a copy of the procedure used in collecting annual maintenance fees along with the deed restrictions. 

“Before a homeowner defaults on the payment plan that has been set up for him, we start writing letters,” he said. 

“Only a ‘no-response’ stance from the homeowner will usually be turned over to the lawyer for collection, but it’s a paper trail first. In no way will we let the attorney do anything without instructions from the board. And in no way have we ever foreclosed on any property in Katyland.” 

Barbier and her group also voted to fire Austin Properties Management and replace the business, citing that the company was involved in following the deed restrictions too strictly, creating improper assessment of fees. 

“Austin Properties Management follows our rules,” stated Boyd, and echoed by Roberts. “If we think they have made an assessment that is too strict, we follow up and take care of it. 

“They (Austin Properties Management) work for us, not the other way around,” he said. 

A claim by Katyland resident Tim Fleming, who attended the meeting, that the present Association had foreclosed on him could not be substantiated. 

David Rivera, property manager for Austin Properties Management, claims that he checked the records up to 1972 and could not find Fleming listed as a homeowner at Katyland. He did admit, however, that the home could have been in another name. 

Reyna claims that no records of Fleming’s Katyland home were found in Harris County, either. 

According to the Association, any foreclosures in Katyland have been conducted by mortgage companies on defaults, not by the Association. 

Rivera and Green both admitted that Barbier’s intentions weren’t all bad, but were unsure on what she was basing some of her information. 
Boyd then spoke up for the present Association, explaining how much it had done for that part of Katy. 

“In 1992, there were many homes in near derelict condition, with cars, trucks, trailers, boats and other things, parked in yards, driveways and streets,” he said. 

“With the group of homeowners who voted to enforce the deed restrictions, it totally improved the conditions of the subdivision.” 

Barbier’s backers had complained about the yearly dues going from $60 to $120. Boyd defended the increase, saying that a few years ago the subdivision was going to have to do away with its existing pool because there was not enough money for maintenance. The people got together and decided they would rather see the dues go up and keep the pool. 

“Since 1992, our home values have increased by thousands, and I credit the Association for a healthy part of this — all for only $10 a month,” he said. 

“We are only a group of neighbors helping to oversee our community and interest,” Reyna concluded. 

The annual Katyland Association’s meeting will be held April 22 at 7 p.m. at the Katy First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall at the corner of Ave. A and Fifth Street.