In the aftermath of Harvey, Woodlands Township, Counties, and MUD will each play a role
In previous blog posts, I explained that, in general, association governed communities are not eligible for cash assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for post-disaster clean up and repairs. FEMA does not provide taxpayer funding for mandatory community associations, because, by law and for tax purposes, they are private organizations, not government entities.
An exception might be made for certain affordable housing or assisted living facilities that serve the general public, but these types of homeowner, condominium, and cooperative associations represent a very small percentage of mandatory residential community associations.
So when I first read the following article about Timarron Lakes, located in the Woodlands, Texas, I wondered how HOA residents were able to receive assistance with disposal of debris using FEMA funds supplied through the Woodlands.
It’s all about how governance is structured in this massive planned community, with a population exceeding 100,000. And most of those details are not revealed in the Chronicle report. An explanation follows below.
Woodlands residents demand drainage relief, recovery funds
By Michelle Iracheta, email@example.com Published 5:54 pm, Wednesday, September 6, 2017
At least a dozen homeowners in The Woodlands’ community of Timarron Lakes demanded drainage relief and recovery funding from The Woodlands Township as they clean up from their second major flooding disaster in a little over a year.
Timarron Lakes, located south/southeast of Spring Creek along the west side Kuykendahl Road in North Harris County, is part of the Village of Creekside Park that took on water in the Tax Day floods of 2016 and again more than a week ago as rainstorms from Hurricane Harvey dumped at least 30 inches in some areas of The Woodlands.
Rich Jakovac, Municipal Utility District 386 board president, told The Woodlands Township Board of Directors Tuesday night that around 300 homes in Creekside Park flooded after Harvey made landfall near Rockport Aug. 25.
“Township board, township staff, we need your help with funding,” Jakovac said.
Timarron Lakes homeowners who attended the special township board meeting vented their frustrations about devastation to their homes and pleaded for The Woodlands’ leaders to take action as they recounted raging floodwaters running through their homes.
“It’s time to get something done with the drainage situation in Timarron,” said Tim Rennie, Timarron Lakes homeowners association secretary. “This is twice in four years. My house isn’t even four years old. We need you guys to step up to the plate and hit a home run.”
While Timarron Lakes has an HOA, the homeowners quoted in the article above are members of a voluntary civic association, not a mandatory homeowners’ association.
The Woodlands is divided into several Village Associations, including Creekside Park. Timarron Lakes is the most recently developed section of Creekside Park, with new homes still available.
Village Associations (civic and social, voluntary participation) (Montgomery County)
Creekside Park – Timarron Lakes (Harris County)
Official Website for Creekside Park Village
Furthermore, The Woodlands has been converted to a special purpose government called a Township. The Township has limited duties, none of which include essential maintenance or public services. One of the board members of The Woodlands describes the Township as a “glorified HOA!”
General information about the Township (special purpose district, government)
As a governing body, however, The Woodlands operates under Constitutional principles and constraints, and allocates votes by residency, not by units of property (homes or land) ownership. Meetings, minutes of meetings, financial reports, and the like are all open and accessible to the general public.
The Woodlands has posted civic alerts with regard to recovery efforts following devastation from Hurricane Harvey. Obviously, because The Woodlands is a unit of government in a declared disaster zone, it qualifies for FEMA aid.
Flood recovery efforts following Harvey
Digging deeper into the governance structure of Woodlands Township, check out the FAQ on Incorporation. Note that storm water management of Timarron Lakes and all Villages of Woodlands Township is the responsibility of a Municipal Utility District (MUD), essentially, a special tax district, also a unit of government. Woodlands Township spans Montgomery and Harris Counties, and each county is responsible for maintenance of roads, trash and recycling collection, and law enforcement through respective agencies.
When media reports do not recognize the important distinctions between mandatory and voluntry/civic HOAs, special tax districts, and municipalities, the reader might be confused about the facts and circumstances. In addition, homeowners and residents may be uncertain who to contact with regard to various services and responsibilities.
Even though Timarron Lakes has an HOA, stormwater management, road maintenance, and trash pickup are administered by governmental entities that serve the public. Timarron Lakes residents are not governed by a private, mandatory, non-profit corporation, also commonly referred to as an HOA.