Tag Archive for: deed restrictions

Deed Restrictions on Northern Parcels of Romerica Land

I previously discussed the deed restrictions on the southern portion of Romerica land, where they plan to build most of their high rises. The southern portion is deed restricted to single family residential. That usually means “one family in one house on one lot.”

The largest, northern portion of the land purchased by Romerica for its development between Kingwood Lakes and the Barrington has deed restrictions, too. The restrictions on Romerica’s northern parcels are not quite as limiting, but still conflict in some ways with the developer’s announced plans.

Discussion applies to Romerica parcels roughly outlined in red.

Retail Restrictions

The 29.094 acre parcel of property (green area) adjacent to Woodland Hills is limited to “…church, school, townhomes, triplexes, amenity retail, not to exceed a total of 8,000 square feet for community based retail services such as a restaurant, snack bar, cleaners, ice cream parlor, bar, coffee shop, bakery, gym or other retail…”

While Romerica primarily plans condos for this northern section, this may conflict with plans announced on one of the developer’s many web sites – for almost 900,000 square feet of retail.

Multi-Family Low- to Mid-Rise For-Sale Housing

That parcel may also be used for offices, or low- to mid-rise, for-sale, multi-housing residential and patio homes.

Other parcels east of the first one are limited to offices or low- to mid-rise, for-sale, multi-housing, townhomes or triplexes, residential, patio homes and a conference center. Romerica has said it plans to put its 50-story hotel and conference center south of the Barrington, where land is restricted to single-family residential.

In Harmony with Surrounding Architecture

All design and architecture must be in harmony with the surrounding areas’.

So much for homes on stilts! Romerica had planned to build its condos on stilts to reduce the amount of fill needed to elevate homes out of the flood plain.

Specifically EXCLUDED: For-rent apartments, traditional single family homes, and duplexes.

Drainage Liability

The developer must also consider the impact that any improvements have on off-site and on-site drainage patterns. If the developer adversely impacts the drainage of adjoining property, the developer must correct the condition to the satisfaction of the adjoining land owner(s).

Surface drainage must go to underground storm drain structures. This could conflict with Romerica’s canal network.

Retail, Open Space, Parking and Height Restrictions

The deed restrictions also prohibit certain types of retail establishments. They include gas stations, night clubs, “adult” establishments, or funeral homes.

A minimum 20% open space requirement applies. All parking and buildings must sit back a minimum of 50 feet from property lines.

Deed restrictions limit building height to five stories. The roof line may not extend more than 65 feet above the slab.

No Boats or Trailers

Significantly, NO BOATS OR TRAILERS may be stored on the property. that could be a disappointment for people who buy condos as part of a marina resort.

For Complete List of Restrictions

To read the exact text in its entirely, click here and scroll down to exhibit B.

Please note: Roman Arrow, listed in the deed is one of more than 35 companies owned by Romerica’s two managers. Also note: Romerica and its related companies own additional parcels that may have other deed restrictions.

The thoughts expressed in this post represent my opinions on matters of public policy. They are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/6/2019

585 Days after Hurricane Harvey

High-Rise Developer May Violate Tanglewood Deed Restrictions, Too

Fabio M. Covarrubias Piffer is one of the two men applying for a permit to develop high rises near the floodway of the San Jacinto West Fork. A title search revealed that Friendswood deed restrictions seemingly limit development to “single-family residential. Mr. Covarrubias-Piffer has refused to meet publicly with the Kingwood community to explain how he plans to get around the deed restrictions.

Business Headquartered in Deed-Restricted Residential Property

Meanwhile, a search of the Texas Secretary of State’s business registration database reveals that Mr. Covarrubias-Piffer lists 5651 Doliver Drive in Tanglewood as the headquarters of one of his companies, Cova Capital Inc.

Secretary of State shows that Cova Capital Inc. is headquartered at 5651 Doliver Drive in Tanglewood.

However, Tanglewood deed restrictions prohibit the operation of businesses in homes, too. Page 21 of the policy manual clearly states that:

  • “Tanglewood properties may only be used for single-family residential purposes.”
  • “Business or commercial use of any Tanglewood property is prohibited.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with a business owning residential property.

The issue in this case is that one of Mr. Covarrubias Piffer’s 30+ companies headquarters in the house; deed restrictions prohibit that.

Legal filings in an investor-fraud case against Mr. Covarrubias Piffer in Houston establish the Doliver Drive property as his Houston address. However, depositions also reveal that he and his partner claim they visit Houston only one day per week on business. (See MARIA DEL CARMEN BORBOLLA AND MARIA DEL CARMEN GOMEZ, CAUSE NO. 2018 – 07276, 157th Judicial Court, Harris County, Tx.)

Expensive Office

Harris County Appraisal District records show that the property actually belongs to another company controlled by Mr. Covarrubias Piffer, FAMA Properties LTD Ptnrshp.

One of Covarrubias’ companies owns a home being used by another of his companies as an office. The $3.2 million Tanglewood home is deed restricted to residential use only.

The Kingwood Connection

Regular readers of this blog may recognize FAMA Properties LTD Partnership as the Alberta, Canada partnership that bought the proposed Kingwood high-rise land in 2012. FAMA bought it from HS Tejas LTD, a Texas Limited Partnership, settled the transaction in Walton County, Florida and Chicago Title recorded it.

Five years later, Fabio Covarrubias Piffer, acting as the sole general partner of FAMA Properties Limited Partnership, sold the same property to Romerica Landco, LP, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, in 2017. Mr. Covarrubias Piffer also controls Romerica Landco, LP.

Mr. Covarrubias Piffer then sold the same land yet again to two other companies he controls, Romerica RMR 4 LLC and Romerica M 5 LLC. Both are Texas Limited Liability Companies.

Yet another company controlled by Mr. Covarrubias Piffer, Romerica Investments, applied for the Army Corps permit to develop the Kingwood property.

Seems like there’s a lot of business going on in that residence!

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/15/2019

545 Days since Hurricane Harvey

High-Rise Property May Be Deed Restricted to Single-Family Residential

A search for deed restrictions on property proposed for high-rise development turned up some huge surprises today. I had previously posted about height restrictions within Friendswood Commercial Development Guidelines. It turns out that the Friendswood Commercial Development Guidelines do not apply in this case – because the property was restricted to single-family residential. Specifically, I’m talking about the section of land circled below. It’s just south of the Barrington subdivision in Kingwood.

This post deals only with the section in red where most of the high rises will go, but deed restrictions also exist on other related parcels of land in the proposed development.

Relevant Property History Starts in 1994

Some concerned residents and I conducted a title search with the help of the County Clerk’s website and a friendly title company. The land in the circle has changed hands twice since 1994. Friendswood Development company sold it to Holley-Strother Kingwood Lake Estates, Ltd. on December 30, 1994. Holley and Strother sold it to the current owners in 2012. The land has actually been sold more than twice, but only among companies controlled by the same individuals. It’s also been the subject of an eight year law suit related to flood plain issues. More on those items in subsequent posts.

Key Elements of Deed Restrictions

Deed restrictions in the first sale specify four key elements:

  • Single-family residential
  • Compatible architecture in harmony with structures on adjoining land.
  • No alteration of drainage for surrounding areas
  • Applies to all subsequent buyers for a period of at least 40 years (until 2036)

Here’s actual language for the first two:

Screen capture of paragraph 5 from the deed.

What Developer Wants to Build

According to the US Army Corps of Engineers Public Notice, Romerica Investments, LLC has applied for a permit to construct commercial, condominium and hotel towers up to 500 feet high on a 25 acre parcel. Here’s a scale drawing that shows what this would like compared to the Barrington if permitted. You can see examples of what they plan in this video posted on an architect’s website.

That hardly looks like single-family residential housing. I talked to experts in city planning, real estate and sales. They all agreed that “single family residential” usually means “one family in one structure on one lot.”  

Drainage Deed Restrictions, Too.

Hindering or obstructing existing drainage channels or ditches, which serve adjoining property owners – without the written consent of the owners – is also prohibited. (See Paragraph 8.)

The Corps’ public notice also states that the developer plans to put “285 cubic yards of fill into 771 linear feet of streams adjacent to the West Fork of the San Jacinto.” That would seem to be another deed restriction violation.

I’m not sure about you, but I moved to Kingwood, a master-planned community, because deed restrictions ensured these kinds of things did not happen.

To my knowledge, the developers have not even attempted to gain permission to disrupt drainage from other villages, such as Kingwood Lakes, Deer Cove, Trailwood and Barrington.

Deed Restrictions Binding on Successors

Another key clause in the deed restrictions reads:

Deed restrictions normally “run” with the land. Said another way, when the first buyer sells the land to a second buyer, the second buyer must abide by the same restrictions that the first buyer had, and so forth in perpetuity. Subsequent buyers may add restrictions, but not remove them without the consent of the ORIGINAL grantor. The original grantor in this case was Friendswood Development Company.

Click here to download the complete deed restrictions.

No Documents Found Removing Restrictions

We could find no recorded documents on the County Clerk’s web site or in a title search that removed deed restrictions on this property. A former Friendswood executive told me, “If there is not a recorded document removing the restrictions, then they have not been removed.” So…

The Burden of Proof is on the Developers

I am requesting the developers to show the legally recorded document that removes the deed restrictions. However, so far they have not responded to my certified mail or phone calls requesting a public meeting.

The Corps informed me yesterday that the developer has designated Leah Manlove Howard of Manlove Advertising and PR as their new point of contact. Her contact information is:

Romerica Investments, LLC
One Performance Drive
Angleton, TX 77515
Telephone: 281-487-6767
POC: Ms. Leah Manlove Howard

This raises so many questions that I hope the Corps extends the public comment period yet again. The community needs to understand who we are dealing with.

As always, these are my opinions on matters of public interest. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP statute of the great State of Texas.

Posted by Bob Rehak on February 6, 2019

526 Days since Hurricane Harvey