Katy homeowner's association threatens fines for Harvey victim who redesigned yard without approval

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- A Katy homeowner's association is cracking down on those making unapproved changes outside their homes, even though many of those homeowners are still recovering from the severe flooding of Hurricane Harvey.

"We had about 26 inches of water in the home," said homeowner Gary Kong.

They had to evacuate at the last minute and live elsewhere for more than six months as the home was repaired.

In March, he decided finally to work on the outside and spent a few thousand dollars to put up a new fence, pavers and a planter.

"All I'm doing is improving the value. The aesthetics of the neighborhood," he said.

But that's when the letters from the association started. The Cinco Residential Property Association has told the Kongs the planters and bricks were not approved, that they should remove them and return the yard to its original landscaping.

Kong calls that ridiculous.

"Guys, we've been through something that's unprecedented here. Give us a break!" he said.

He admits not asking for permission. So he went back and did so and his request was still denied.

"I'm in a no-win situation. I'm just trying to tear my hair out trying to understand," he insisted.

The Cinco Residential Property Association refused to answer any of our questions about the matter, instead sending us a statement reading in part: "In the nine months since Hurricane Harvey, the board continues to work with residents as they restore their properties. The resident in question installed a planting bed and red paver stones that are not harmonious with the rest of the community and only sought approval after it was installed."

Letters sent to the Kongs from the association threaten fines and denial of access to neighborhood amenities if the issue is not resolved.

"If I take it back down, guess what? They probably send me a notice too!" he said.

Kong says he plans to give in and remove whatever the association wants, lamenting the expense but noting that it's probably cheaper than trying to fight the association in court.
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