Bob and I moved to MNW in 1978. There were around 800 homes built at that time. We selected a home by Carl Olson only half finished in a great location on a cul de sac. Olson was one of 4 or 5 builders besides the developer, James Goettee. MNW was finished early in 1990 when Mr. Goettee decided to quit buying up land in the area and move a little further north off Stuebner Airline to start another subdivision.
Bob and I had to read our deed restrictions at closing and promise to abide by them before signing to buy the house. Little did we know that the deed restrictions did not mean much to those who came before us. There were boats, camper trailers, mobile homes and inoperative old cars on the grass beside driveways which definitely were violations. There was a huge boat (I called Noah’s Ark) on the driveway next door to me and was stored there when the house was finished 3 months after ours and the new homeowners moved in.
I began to be a chronic complainer about that boat and all the other vehicle violations. My next door neighbor’s boat turned out to belong to the man’s brother who lived in Kingwood and, of course, Kingwood did not allow it. It took a while but, I finally got it moved.
Regarding my years of being a chronic complainer, I was told by the president of the HOA and all his henchmen, that they could not send deed restriction letters because these violators were “their friends”. In the early days of MNW, the “MNW Swim & Racquet Club” was a private club and everyone was a paying member. I was told that they could not hurt their member’s feelings by sending them a deed restriction letter. I did not stop complaining.
Meanwhile, there was no grass mowing maintenance on Champion Forest Dr. from Lichen Ln. to Knurled Oaks to the north. The grass, or weeds, in the first block (no subdivision marker yet) from Louetta to Lichen Ln. was mowed by a farmer in the area with a bush hog mower. The interior blocks had weeds up to 2’ high. I asked the County (Precinct 3 at that time) to send me a dump truck with driver once a month and I called volunteers to meet me at certain blocks with mowers, blowers, edgers, etc., to make some headway with Champion Forest Dr. We were not 4 lane until sometime in the late1980s. My volunteers were also asked to meet me at certain of Mr. Goettee’s vacant lots where the neighbors dumped their trash, grass and old appliances. That’s when I started writing articles in the MNW Newsletter asking people to stop that practice as it was an affront to all who lived in MNW. That went on for about a year.
Bob and I started attending the monthly board meetings soon after we moved to MNW. I guess, because of my will to work in MNW, in 1979 the president asked if I would serve on the architectural control committee. I accepted, even though I did not know what the job entailed. I soon learned and was given a certain territory in the subdivision to make sure that our homeowners went by the deed restrictions with their construction projects. Also in 1979, we asked the county to plant some trees on the Champion Forest Dr. esplanades. The only trees we had were the natural pines. Precinct 3 had a tree farm and a tree planting machine. I took advantage of that and asked for 10 trees. That was a good start to our landscaping.
The year 1979 was a busy year. I was into the work of architectural controls and then asked to be grounds chairman. I was in the habit of walking the length of Champion Forest Dr daily and picking up all the trash, mostly from Mr. Goettee’s construction workers. I kept all taped signs as well as the tape off of our stop signs and also saw the need for our homeowners to take care of their yard maintenance. Very few seemed to care that their yards were very unkempt and that was a blight on MNW. I asked the 1979 board on their last meeting of the year if I could devise a program that would take care of the yard maintenance problem by sending out letters to them. They thought it was a good idea but, I needed to write the program, with guidelines, etc., and take it to the next board.
1980 – Jack Searcy became the HOA President. He elevated the deed restriction/architecturaI control chairperson to the board as 3rd VP. I had 5 of the most prominent realtors in the area speak to the general meeting at the beginning of the year. They told of their reluctance to bring their clients to MNW because of our lack of yard maintenance and especially the vehicle deed restriction violations. They said that if they had a client with a mobile home, boat, or like violation, they brought them to MNW because we did not enforce deed restrictions. Needless to say, Jack’s board allowed me to conduct my Grounds Awareness program. I continued to write articles in the MNW Newsletter. However, we were still suffering with the deed restriction chairperson’s reluctance to send DR letters. And, of course, I was still a chronic complainer. Jack’s 1980 board voted to keep all signs off the esplanades. Our homeowners were nailing them to our pine trees. As grounds chair, I continued to keep them removed until I left MNW in September, 2015.
In 1980 I was ready to completely landscape the Champion Forest Dr. esplanades. I knew I could not do that without water on the esplanades. So, my wonderful Bob, who had 6 weeks of vacation per year and did not want to “vacation”, spent his time installing the irrigation system on our esplanades. So, in late 1981, the water was ready and I got 3 bids from which to choose for our landscaping. The landscaping was installed and Bob and I managed the watering system ourselves for 20 years before we had the system automated in 1992. Bob was our free repairman and I turned on the water as needed. I tried to get volunteers to help with the watering but, that did not work out.
In 1982, Jim Smith became the HOA President. Jim was also the president of our #114 water board. In April of that year he called and asked if I would come to the board and enforce deed restrictions. He stated that the board 3rd VP did not want to do it and if they were ever going to be enforced I would be the one to do it. By then, I was already busier than I wanted to be. I started delivering Welcome Packets to the new neighbors in January 1980, a job that I stayed with for exactly 30 years, working the architectural controls and working the grounds business.
But, I decided to get involved with the enforcement of deed restrictions too, and I never looked back.
I was then 3rd VP on the board, a job that I stayed with for 12 years. Right away I hired Michael Gainer, who I was told was the best HOA deed restriction attorney in the city of Houston at that time. He has continued as our HOA attorney.
As 3rd VP in charge of deed restrictions as well as the architectural controls, I needed an AC committee of builders, architects, and those homeowners who just understood that business as well as having aesthetic values. We had plenty of those in MNW. I always had a committee of at least 5 men to help with that job. They did all the construction request inspections and when satisfied, I sent the letter of approval to the homeowner and only then could they start their project. My newsletter articles increased to include all of the positions that I then held.
Michael and I had our hands full as all of the campers, boats, etc. had been on the homeowner’s properties for over the 4 years statute of limitations. I spoke to each homeowner and let them know that it was time for MNW to enforce deed restrictions, that we intended to do just that and, we needed their help. They all agreed to remove their violations or place them completely out of sight as is written in the restrictions.
That took care of those who were over the statute of limitations. For the next 12 years, as long as I stayed with that job, we had more and more violations to deal with. As new homeowners moved in with their boats and mobile homes, more and more letters went out. My 2 letters went out advising them of the violation. If they were not removed, Michael sent his two letters ending with “we will see you in court”. Most thought the letters were a bluff because of the prior years with no action. Soon, our homeowners were glad that we were finally enforcing the deed restrictions. The real estate agents could see our positive difference. Still, there were holdouts until they received their summons to appear in court. Out of 35 court cases that we filed, Michael and I saw only 5 cases in court. When the judge saw the words printed in our restrictions, it really was no contest. MNW prevailed and the homeowner had to pay all costs.
1984 & 85, 1986 & 87 – Ed Schott was president. It was mostly business as usual. I had a serious court case in 1987, in which MNW prevailed.
1988 & 89, John Lindley was president. In mid 1988 Mr. Goettee had his plat for Section 16 ready to file in the Harris county court records when he called me into his office. Section 16 was to enter off of Stuebner Airline Dr. just south of Theisswood Rd., our 1st entrance. He pointed to the name of the entrance street to Section 16 and I saw that he had named the street Naremore Dr. Three blocks in was a cul de sac street named Naremore Ct. I guess hard work paid off. I was very happy about the honor but, I still had to do my job and dealing with him was not always pleasant. See the following:
Section 16 was to have 400 homes, by far the largest section in MNW. The HOA was in charge of enforcing the deed restrictions in all of MNW however, the architectural control was a different matter. The HOA had the architectural control after a section was finished and the developer signed it over to us. Only then could we make sure that all construction on the properties was legal according to the AC manual and the deed restrictions. There were so many violations in
Section 16 that I was anxious to resolve but, my hands were tied. Mr. Goettee was not willing to intervene and speak to those homeowners in violation, lest he would not get to sell their friends a house. That was his quote. There were 10’ satellite dishes everywhere, even on top of a house, which did not meet the AC Committee guideline. I continued to ask him to sign the architectural controls over to me and his answer was, “I’ll turn it over when I turn it over”. I knew that Section 16 would not be complete before the 4 years statute of limitations, which meant that those violations would be lost to us forever. I had a great idea!
Section 19 was underway with 3 or 4 homes built and occupied and a few lots were sold. Section 19 was to the immediate south of Section 16. I spoke to my board about the situation and asked them if they would approve my sending a letter to Mr. Goettee letting him know that we did not intend to include Section 19 into our HOA which meant that we would not control those homeowners in any way, no garbage service or deed restriction enforcement, etc., and why. They approved my suggestion. I sent the letter to him, copying the homeowners who were already occupying their homes as well as those who had purchased lots from Mr. Goettee. I also wrote a letter to the new homeowners and explained our move and why and copied Mr. Goettee. I let the new homeowners know that the HOA is refunding their HOA dues and if they needed any services at all they would need to contact Mr. Goettee.
My phone rang off the wall. The homeowners were very upset as were those who had purchased lots. A very prominent physician and his wife had just purchased 2 lots at the end of a cul de sac. The Mrs. called me and said they were going to sell their lots back to Mr. Goettee, which they did, because if I could not enforce the deed restrictions, they would not build in Sec 19. This was a family who had lived in MNW for 10 years. They then bought 2 lots in Sec 24 and built a beautiful home.
Needless to say, Mr. Goettee called me to his office. He had no choice but to let me have AC Control of Section16 before the statute of limitation ran out. I got all the papers signed and wrote another letter to those upset homeowners. We resumed business as usual.
Well, as time went on and working my job as usual, I had another problem with Mr. Goettee. He continued to build in Section 19 and I did my job with the violators in Section 16.
I continued to monitor what was being built in Section 19. I watched a home under construction that I surmised was going to have a carport attached to the garage. The further along the construction, the more I was sure that this home was being built with a huge carport to house a mobile home. I went into Mr. Goettee’s office and discussed this situation. He told me that it
was what the owner wanted. I let him know that when the owner stored his mobile home in the carport completely visible to the public which was against the deed restrictions, I would have no
choice but to sue the owner. I told him that the owner would then sue him and that he needed to consult his attorney. Mr. Goettee would do anything to sell a house but, I had him over a
barrel. A week later, I asked him if he had consulted his attorney and he said he had and that he would completely close up the carport and make it a very large garage.
We had had just about enough of Mr. Goettee and his lack of concern with the job that the HOA was trying to do to protect our home values. We let him know that we would not take into our HOA any more of his Sections.
1990 & 91 – Jack Searcy was president. We asked him to return as president as we knew he was the right man for the job at that time. We had just made a lot of changes to the HOA which included the completion of the subdivision and hiring a management company.
In 1991 Mr. Goettee developed Section 18., about 115 homes off of Theiss Mail Rt Rd
entering at Aylesbury Ln. At the same time he built Country Estates. They are the 6 houses in the 17200 and 17300 blocks of Theiss Mail Rt Rd.with the brick walls in front of the properties. A few years later, the Board finally did include them in our HOA as Mr. Goettee was no longer building in our area.
Memorial Northwest had an “inhouse” bookkeeper from the beginning. She kept our records, paid the bills, and when new residents moved in, she set them up with garbage service, etc. She and I did the directory as I was visiting the new neighbors and providing their information. In 1990, the HOA hired a professional service, Consolidated Management Services, to handle the billing, the garbage service, etc. I completely took over the directory and its distribution that year and passed it on to the HOA secretary in about 2010. I did the distribution until I left MNW. I was also doing the subdivision Newsletter until I gave the job to the secretary about the same year. The 1992 president and I visited Champion Printing & Publishing Co. and turned the printing of our newsletter and directory over to them.
I retired from the board at the end of 1993. We then had Consolidated Management take over the deed restriction enforcement as well as the finances. I continued to keep up the grounds business until I moved from MNW in September 2015. The Grounds Awareness Program that I started in 1980 ended when I retired from the board in 1993. Consolidated began to monitor the yards and send letters. That program helped so much in making our homeowners aware that a well kept yard improved our property values.
Perhaps of interest:
In the mid 1970s, Memorial Northwest Estates was developed. This is a 150 lot subdivision off of the north end of Theiss Mail Rt Rd east of Doerre Middle school. The developer was killed in a helicopter crash after he had put in the streets, street lights, and sewer system.
He had not yet begun to build the houses. One builder after another tried to make a go of taking over the building but, none stayed very long until Jimmy Goettee, James Goettee’s son, started building the houses. The younger Goettee completely finished building the houses
until that subdivision was finished. By then, MNW Estates had a board of directors and was in business. In the late 1980s however, they asked our HOA to take on the business of enforcing their deed restrictions and architectural controls. They also wanted to be in our subdivision directory. So, I went door to door getting all their information for our directory and putting their listings in the back of our directory. I also, had to keep up with their violations, deed restriction and architectural. The city continued to bill our HOA for their street lights, which we refused to pay. That was not our subdivision. They also wanted our deputies to patrol The Estates. After a short period of time, it did not prove worth our while to take care of their business and we severed all ties.
In the mid 1980s, a developer planned the 150 lot subdivision off of Louetta Rd. just west of Memorial Northwest. It was not yet named. The entrance street is Shadow Valley. Soon after the streets and underground was installed, that developer was bankrupt. The land sat for 2 to 3 years before it was purchased. The new owner had the land plat ready to file in the Harris County court records when he came to my house one evening. He laid out his plat on my dining table and when I saw that the name of that subdivision was Memorial Northwest Section 23, I asked why he was naming it Memorial Northwest. He said, “To get in on your good name”. He wanted us to take them in. I told him that I was only 1 person on the board and that I would take the matter to my board. Since we were not contiguous with them we would need to leave our subdivision to get to their section to perform any duties, our board voted it down. When he built the entrance markers, he copied the style of the letters on our markers which, at that time, was Old English. For several years, the new homeowners in Section 23 thought they were part of our subdivision because that is what the builders told them. I finally went to each builder’s office and asked them to stop telling prospective buyers that they were a part of our HOA.
Presidents from my time in MNW:
1978 & 1979 – Clark Bird 1998 & 1999 – Bruce Holland
1980 & 1981 – Jack Searcy 2000 & 2001 – J. C. Freeman
1982 & 1983 – Jim Smith 2002 & 2003 – Gene Birdwell
1984 & 1985 – Ed Schott 2004 – 2011 – Craig Chaszar
1986 & 1987 – Ed Schott 2012 & 2013 – Bill Burton/Vince Glocksein
1988 & 1989 – John Lindley 2014 & 2015 – Roy May/Phil Blagg
1990 & 1991 – Jack Searcy
1992 & 1993 – Mark Hunstiger
1994 & 1995 – Dan Quigley
1996 & 1997 – George Vick