by A.C. Hall with additional reporting from Cheryl Posey & Ben Posey
The Hawk Ridge Apartments, a low income apartment complex targeted for construction on Dale Lane in White Settlement, has been creating a stir lately both within the walls of city hall, and now outside them.
The City Council and Economic Development Corporation of White Settlement are in favor of the development, but some citizens are wary of the idea of low income housing coming into their neighborhood. One group that has made official their pledge of support is the Sun View Home Owner’s Association, an entity whose existence is unknown to many residents of the Sun View area who didn’t know the group was speaking on their behalf.
“Everyone that I had spoken with Saturday [March 17] was completely shocked and unaware of any HOA for their neighborhood,” Marcy Galle of the Chapel Creek Neighborhood Association said.
Galle and the Chapel Creek NA are opposed to the construction of the Hawk Ridge Apartments, and when she learned of an HOA in the area she took to the streets of Sun View to find out about it. It turns out, no one in the area seemed to have any idea that an HOA was in operation.
The Grizzly Detail contacted several citizens living within Sun View Estates and found their answers to be the same.
“We have lived in our home for almost nine years and we have never been told about an HOA,” Leslie Rutledge, a resident in the Sun View Estates said. Rutledge went even further, stating that she is opposed to having an HOA in the area.
“We definitely do not need an HOA,” Rutledge told the Grizzly on Monday night. “I have heard too many bad things about them and they are usually formed by individuals that are power hungry and want control.”
Between the Chapel Creek NA and The Grizzly Detail, twenty households in the Sun View area were contacted, and all twenty said they have not been approached by or made aware of the Sun View HOA.
Even realtors selling property in the area are clueless to the existence of the HOA.
“There’s no HOA in that area,” one realtor who has a property for sale on Judy street said.
So far, it appears that the only people who know of the HOA are the three men who set it up in February 2012. Jason Carter is the president, Michael Arnold, Jr. is the treasurer, and Jack Cook is the secretary. Getting in touch with these individuals proved difficult. The only contact information they provided on paperwork filed with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is the number to the White Settlement Police Department Dispatch Office (Carter is a WSPD officer), one email address, and a P.O. Box. An attempt to reach Carter at the WSPD was unsuccessful, and an email sent to the shared email address never received a response.
Furthermore, the only known action taken by the HOA is filing paperwork showing their official support of the low income Hawk Ridge Apartment complex with the TDHCA. They took this action on Feb. 28, the very day their group was made official by notary James Michael Ryan, who HOA secretary Jack Cook confirmed is Jim Ryan, Economic Development Director of the City of White Settlement.
The connection between the Sun View HOA and the city leaders who support Hawk Ridge goes beyond their choice of notary. President Jason Carter is a former employee at City Hall where he worked with City leaders. He has since moved on to become a police officer in the White Settlement Police Department.
HOA treasurer Michael Arnold, Jr. is a former employee of the City of White Settlement, the son of current WS Councilman Mike Arnold, husband of WS City Secretary Amy Arnold, a WS volunteer firefighter, and a current member of the WS Parks and Recreation board.
Jack Cook holds the secretary position for the Sun View HOA. He’s a former WS city council member, and a current member of the WS Board of Adjustments and Appeals.
In the paperwork filed with TDHCA, the Sun View HOA pledges their support of the Hawk Ridge Apartment’s attempt to receive funding via a competitive tax housing credit. According to Cook there are currently four members in the Sun View HOA, but their stated boundaries extend to Las Vegas Trail on the east, West Point Boulevard on the south, Loop 820 on the west, and from George Street westerly following Farmer’s Branch creek to 820 as the North border.
This puts roughly four hundred houses within the boundaries of the Sun View HOA, and yet only four of those houses were represented when the HOA pledged support to the Hawk Ridge Apartments.
“Sun View Estates residents [that we spoke to] were opposed to the fact that any HOA sent support for this multifamily housing on their behalf without their knowledge,” Galle said, again sharing her experience speaking with home owners within the Sun View HOA boundaries.
Similar sentiments were discovered by Grizzly Detail reporters who spoke to those who live in the area.
“They don’t have any right pretending like this whole big area supports something when it doesn’t,” one resident on Rhea Drive who asked to remain anonymous said on Monday.
When reached via telephone Monday, Sun View HOA secretary Cook had this to say about the low number of people involved in the group.
“We haven’t really got out and pushed it that much yet,” Cook told The Grizzly Detail. “We’re planning on trying to set a meeting up.”
Speaking with The Grizzly at City Hall on Tuesday, EDC Director Jim Ryan commented on the reasons the group isn’t better known yet.
“The HOA was going to be unveiled at the public meeting,” Ryan said, saying the group was planning to advertise for new members soon. “It was not being kept a secret.”
Ryan pointed to the planned improvements of Central Park as a big reason the HOA had come into existence, and said that members of the HOA were going to be speaking on that matter at Thursday’s EDC meeting. Ryan did know of the HOA’s support of Hawk Ridge Apartments, but he said that was not the group’s sole purpose.
The City Council and the WS EDC have remained in favor of Hawk Ridge Apartments, approving a loan of $290,000 that was needed by Hawk Ridge to secure the chance at getting government funding. What hasn’t been as clear is the overall citizen support of the complex, but the Sun View HOA has now given the impression to the TDHCA that a portion of White Settlement is in favor of this development.
Having the Sun View HOA speak on her behalf is something that doesn’t sit right with Rutledge.
“I feel that it is wrong and should be illegal,” Rutledge said. “They don’t have the written acknowledgment from me or my husband to speak for us.”
The Chapel Creek Neighborhood Association did notify the City of White Settlement of their intention to file their opposition to Hawk Ridge Apartments with the TDHCA.
“No response was received from anyone with the City of White Settlement,” Galle said. “Instead, three current city officials formed an HOA on the sly and misrepresented hundreds of White Settlement residents.”
That notice of opposition was sent to White Settlement leaders on Feb. 21. On Feb. 22, the Sun View HOA held their first meeting.
When made aware of the connection that the Chapel Creek NA was drawing between the HOA’s creation and its support of the Hawk Ridge Apartments, Ryan made reference to the fact that the Chapel Creek NA isn’t even in White Settlement.
“The Chapel Creek Neighborhood Association has nothing to do with this complex,” Ryan said. “They should be concerned with Chapel Creek.”
Residents in the Sun View additions who want to voice their own opinion about the low income Hawk Ridge Apartments can do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to reference “Hawk Ridge Apartment Application #12025” in your correspondence.
Written correspondence can be sent to:
Multifamily Finance Production Division
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
P.O. Box 13941 Austin, Texas 78711-3941