HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After months of searching for the perfect home, a homeowner in Montrose was excited to finally move into her first home with her husband -- that is, until a massive utility pole was placed almost directly in front of their house just two weeks after closing.
The massive pole is part of an ongoing project to upgrade transmission structures and enhance resiliency in the Montrose area, according to CenterPoint Energy.
However, residents do not understand why the giant poles have to be placed so close to their homes.
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"We saved a lot for this house and put a lot into this. It's upsetting they can do this," the homeowner said. "When they first poured the base, I said it's the size of a trampoline. It's huge. It clearly belongs on the side of a highway, not a neighborhood."
The homeowner, who wants to stay anonymous, said it has become an attraction in all the wrong ways.
"If I am inside, I can see them kind of stop if they are on a walk and take a look up and down," the homeowner said. "If I am outside, they will be, like, 'Do you own this house? I am so sorry.' Every single person apologizes, and I am like, I don't know what else to say at this point."
Her frustrations are shared with neighbors, who all worry about what this will do to property values in the neighborhood.
"They are a utility company, so they can do whatever they want, but what's it doing to the property values? This can't be good," Steve Wiese, a neighbor, said.
ABC13 got to the bottom of why this is allowed.
A spokesperson for CenterPoint said it is "conducting an electric system enhancement project in Montrose, which includes upgrading our transmission structures to enhance resiliency."
The structures are located in the City of Houston's road right-of-way, according to CenterPoint Energy.
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This particular pole, at the intersection of Fairview and Park Street, is a self-supporting 90-degree structure that provides for the removal of five other electric poles and numerous guy wires, according to CenterPoint.
ABC13 also contacted the City of Houston to see whether the city could step in. A spokesperson also pointed to the fact that the State of Texas gives public utilities the right to construct equipment on public rights-of-way within neighborhoods (Sec. 181.042).
A spokesperson did acknowledge the City of Houston is aware of the pole and its impact on the community.
"We are investigating any enforcement actions that may be available to us, up to and including legal action against CenterPoint if we find a violation of any kind," a spokesperson for the Department of Administration and Regulatory Affairs said.
When asked why CenterPoint did not contact residents beforehand, a spokesperson said they are not required to.
In the statement, a spokesperson said, "The Public Utility Commission of Texas does not require utilities to file a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for routine activities associated with transmission facilities such as upgrading to a higher voltage not greater than 230 kV, as was performed for this project (from 69kV to 138kV)."
However, the spokesperson did acknowledge the company should have, even if it were not required.
"We acknowledge that we should have engaged our neighbors about this pole. We will strive to ensure that such communications occur in the future," the spokesperson said.
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Andy Abercrombie has lived on the same street since the early '80s. Abercrombie said he understands why the utility poles are important, especially with the February freeze still fresh on his mind.
"We made it through OK. Much better than other people had in the city, so to have someone like that in the city is helpful," Abercrombie said.
However, many residents still don't understand the reasoning for the utility poles having to be placed so close to their homes.
"I think that is everyone's question. Why does it have to be in front of a house?" the anonymous homeowner said. "Why can't it be outside the neighborhood? On the street. Not in front of all these houses? It clearly doesn't belong here."
The giant pole is not only an eyesore, but a safety hazard, some neighbors voiced.
"Anyone trying to cross Fairview, the problem is you just can't see to your left-hand side," Abercrombie said. "I think the solution would be to put one of those half-round mirrors, the ones that give you a 180-degree view, and then you would always be able to tell what is coming in that lane."
Amid the frustrations, construction continues, while some neighbors wonder if their homes will be next, fearing they clearly have no say in the matter.
"I just think this is a very important neighborhood in Houston," the anonymous homeowner said. "It's right in the heart of Houston. All these houses are historic for the most part if not very nice, newly built houses. It's just ruining the neighborhood."
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