Property owners in The Preserve community, located on SH 105 between Moss Hill and Tarkington, organized a protest on Friday to raise awareness to their plight. Facing a huge hike in property owners association dues, residents are demanding that the property developer, SWE of Houston, fix the crumbling infrastructure that has made their only access bridge unstable and made the roads in some areas impassable.
“I am a senior citizen and on a limited income. I am not getting a raise this year and I cannot afford for the property owners association to be raising the dues so much each year,” said resident Jan Good.
According to Good and another property owner, Karen Sarginson, the annual dues in 2018 were $450. By the following year, they had jumped by 64.8 percent, another 20 percent the following year, and this year the proposed dues are expected to jump by another 66.6 percent.
“I’ve put my property on the market but it will probably take a couple of years to sell it. Properties in this community don’t sell quickly. The property values are there but who wants to come into this mess?” Good said.
Inside the subdivision, which was formerly known as Cypress Lakes, “For Sale” signs are posted everywhere. Many people are looking to sell, even though they are hesitant to leave the community they love, where deer roam freely outside homes and neighbors look out for each other.
The constant rise in dues and crumbling infrastructure aren’t the only deterrents for potential buyers. The subdivision, which borders the Trinity River, is prone to flooding. During Hurricane Harvey and other storms, property owners were forced to boat in and out of the subdivision or wait it out in their homes, assuming their homes weren’t flooded.
In addition to the rising dues, the property owners are frustrated that the property owners association has been leveraged by the developer, which has been given a significantly greater share of the voting power than the owners. This means that despite their unification on matters, the owners can never have enough votes to offset the wishes of the developer.
“We want a voice at the meetings. We want them to listen to what we want instead of what they want. We want them to get rid of Texas Community Property Management, which SWE owns. Everyone involved works for SWE, which is owned by Scott Wizig,” Good said. “I think they are trying to get as much money from us as they can. It feels like they are trying to force us out. I think they are hoping we will leave so they can redevelop this property.”
Sugarland resident Terry Azzouz is a recent property owner in The Preserve. Azzouz said she purchased the property in July 2021 after contacting Wizig directly and asking about his plans for the property. A property developer herself, Azzouz says she trusted that SWE was going to develop the community and make the roads better.
“It’s very disappointing that things aren’t being done,” she said.
While some cosmetic improvements have been made, such as cutting the grass in public areas and cleaning the subdivision’s three pools, the maintenance isn’t being performed consistently, Azzouz said, pointing out that a pile of road materials was dumped on the road near her home weeks ago and still hasn’t been spread. Owners now are having to drive onto the grassy shoulders to avoid hitting the rock pile.
“I see the potential for this property. That’s why I bought a property here. I don’t understand why Scott isn’t doing what he said he was going to do. Things are not lining up with what’s being done,” she said. “I just don’t understand the motivation here.”
With more than 1,200 property owners living in The Preserve, the combined dues are a tidy sum that residents believe should be used to fix the bridge. Azzouz, Sarginson and Good are concerned that the bridge will fail under the weight of a vehicle, causing someone to be injured.
An engineering study that was performed by Louis Bergman III in October 2021 has determined that the bridge is out of compliance with Liberty County Bridge Standards.
According to the study, the bridge deck has numerous holes and is covered with many past patches. Some large areas are covered with steel plates. The structural members are failing and unstable. Many of the wooded piers are rotten and the abutments are failing, as are the wooden cross members and the cross beams.
Bluebonnet News called Scott Wizig for comment but so far has received no response.