Tanglewood property suit: Jury sides with homeowners association

A Harris County jury has sided with a homeowners association in the affluent Tanglewood neighbourhood that was sued by residents over plans to build a house on their lot.

Stewart and Marla Feldman, and a trustee, sued Tanglewood Homes Association in an effort to force them to approve plans for a new home on a property they own adjacent to their primary residence. The Feldmans are long-time residents of Tanglewood. In 2008, the couple purchased the property next to their home.

They wanted to build a new garage, so they planned to expand the size of their lot by 1,300 square feet by taking some of the land from the second lot. They would then sell the reconfigured second lot to a third party for the construction of a new home. The Feldmans approached the association but were told that if they changed the property line, they couldn’t sell the second property as a separate single-family home lot.

So they sued in an earlier case that was resolved in 2015 when an appeals court agreed to a finding of declaratory judgment that the Feldmans could, in fact, use the second lot for a house.

The case they lost last week was filed in 2011 after the Feldmans couldn’t get plans approved for a proposed new home on the secondary lot.

They sued the association, claiming that failing to approve plans devalued the property.

The Feldmans’ attorney, Mitchell Katine, said the jury felt the homeowners should have submitted more detailed plans. He said the owners submitted a “site plan” with the footprint of the proposed construction and offered to provide elevations and other materials. He said the association never communicated what was wrong with those plans.

Katine said he did not know whether the homeowners plan to appeal.

Steven Hudgins, the attorney representing the association, declined to answer questions about the case.

“My clients are happy with the results,” Hudgins said, “and would like to thank the jury for their hard work on the case.”

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