Marbella Dispute in Limbo

The Marbella power line dispute is in limbo. A tentative settlement was negotiated to remove the overhead power lines and bury most them over the months ahead pursuant to a negotiated timetable. Although most of the clients perceive this as a victory, until the work is actually completed, William Brown, LLC considers this a stalling tactic to quiet the media and appease the residents. The best news, in our opinion, is that the practice, by officials, of overlooking the League City ordinances has now come under scrutiny. The result is that the offenders responsible for granting the variance that opened this can of worms have been removed. The League City Council has also drafted new statutes and policies affecting these practices to prevent this travesty from happening again. We will revisit this issue to monitor compliance with the terms of the agreement as the matter develops.

William A. Brown, LLC, Represents Residents of Mar Bella Development in League City, Texas

William A. Brown, LLC, is now representing residents and buyers, in the new community of Mar Bella in League City, Texas, who are at odds with the developers for installing unsightly overhead power lines instead of buried power lines as was represented to the buyers, and required by local ordinance.

Mar Bella, a resort town on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, is the namesake of this attractive new real-estate development League City, Texas, with beautiful homes, a first-rate school district and scenic views of water features.  It is a short hop from Galveston Bay, the Galveston beaches, the Kemah Boardwalk and all of the other trapping of the good life in Texas.

To maintain the beauty of the environment, the master plan of this community included buried electrical power lines to each and every home, and for most of the community, this is what happened.  But now there is a problem because the developers have reneged on their commitment to bury the power lines, and have instead began planting unsightly telephone poles with above-ground wires to furnish electricity to the homes of the final phases of the development.

As you approach this oasis in the Texas coastal region and drive through the entrance, it is truly breathtaking.  But then, as you meander around to the eastern side, you find these enormous, unsightly, black telephone poles dripping with creosote, planted right on the property of the home owners. The above-ground power lines and poles have dramatically affected the picturesque views and consequently, the property values.

The residents of Mar Bella are angry. The environment of their dream homes have been defaced and the developer is pushing back indicating essentially that if the affected residents don’t support the change to above-ground power lines, they won’t have power at all. As one can imagine, the residents are shattered. They want what they bargained for, what was agreed to, what the ordnance demanded, and what they expected.

As representatives of residents and buyers in the affected community, we at William A. Brown, LLC, are determined to help them get the beautiful, safe and secure environment that they are proud to call home.

International Probate Matters

No matter where you live, when you pass, your property needs to transfer to the heirs that you intended. If there is no other legal mechanism in place, such as a Living Trust, the transfer will typically be handled in probate court. But then the question is, where is probate opened to establish the authority to effect such transfers?

In a recent case, a decedent who was a former resident of Galveston County, Texas, had remarried and was living as an expatriate in a foreign country with a spouse who is a citizen of that county. The spouse had an interesting question to resolve: where is the probate jurisdiction?

To allow probate to be opened in Texas, it is important to establish as many ties to the Texas community as possible, hopefully including some form of real property. There is provision of the Texas Estates Code that affords the local probate court the authority to open an estate in this kind of situation.

Something to consider is that a Living Trust eliminates probate, and in a case such as this international one, the transfer of property becomes a non-issue.

Do you have mold on your premises?

Mold is a big problem in the Gulf coast area especially with the humidity as high as it gets.  Many clients in the Houston & Galveston area complain of uncontrollable cough, wheezing, watery/stinging eyes, and headache resulting in bronchitis, pneumonia, COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions.

The Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Mold Assessment and Remediation Rules “TMARR” has codified the laws for practices and procedures, notification, complaints and many other aspects of mitigating mold infestation at home and in the workplace.

Mold Inspection Sciences is statewide outfit licensed to inspect and test you premises. They generate a thorough report to help answer your questions if you believe you have a mold problem.

FEMA Flood Map revisions

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) revises the flood maps from time to time and establishes the BFE (Base Flood Elevation) that directly establishes the premiums for flood insurance. The BFE for a particular property will determine whether a mortgage lender will require that the property must carry flood insurance coverage for any improvements on the premises. Following Hurricane IKE, the flood hazard maps (known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs) for the Gulf Coast of Texas and other states underwent major revisions that continue to be reevaluated from time to time. These updated flood hazard maps (known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs) and studies will allow communities and property owners to make more informed decisions about reducing their coastal flood risk. To help communities and individuals to understand their coastal flood risk even more, a new informational layer—the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA)— are now be depicted on the FIRMs.

The effect of being in one zone verses another on the FIRMs can have a profound impact. It is not just a matter of how high above the BFE the living area of a house may be but if you are in a VE zone your property can not have reinforced concrete underneath it nor can there be enclosed space greater than 299 square feet (approximately enough for a one car garage.)  Your home may even carry a deed restriction recorded in the county deed records that precludes modifications in violation of such deed restriction. Although this change is still being considered in the Galveston County / Galveston Bay area, it has not yet been adopted.