The Estates at Shannon Ridge
A Subdivision in Wilson County Texas
And Backstory
Of Our Subdivision's Development And Resulting Deed Restrictions

By Randy Davis

Comments, Corrections, Revisions, Opinions Etc. Are Welcome.

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Documentation of the Formation of Our Subdivision

The Estates at Shannon Ridge

Below are the Developers Documents, including the Original Deed Restrictions. These are complete and current and considered as "Running With The Land". (The Restrictions travel with the Deed, and cannot generally be removed or modified by new owners.) - Please forgive the low quality resolution, the originals were not high definition images, and are all we have to work with. High resolution copies (unsigned) can be viewed here .

Overview -The Backstory

The early history, including climatological data, the economy, and a bit about the indigenous population of the Wilson County area, as published in The Texas State Historical Association - "Handbook of Texas". 

Original Developer Documents of The Estates at Shannon Ridge

The Estates at Shannon Ridge was originally formed on March 11, 1997, when the first of eventually 6 Units was opened. The additional 5 Units were later opened in succession, as properties sold and the development was expanded. Documentation filing of each of the 6 was executed on differing dates as each unit was opened. The final Unit - 6, was opened March 22, 1999. All 6 Units are identical in content and wording except Unit 1, which prohibits connecting a property with the highway.    

Factors Involved At The Time 

When the Estates at Shannon Ridge was in it's formative stages, (mid-1990s) several emerging economic and demographic factors had begun to affect the San Antonio area real estate market. Interest rates had stabilized at an affordable level. Gasoline prices and availability had improved since the long forgotten Arab oil Embargo of 1973, and The later embargo due to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The population of the San Antonio and nearby surrounding areas was increasing at a rate of nearly 3% per year. This growth in population was due largely to an increase of well paying jobs in the fields of tourism, medicine, high technology in data and communication, military activity and military support, as well as in an increasing number of retiring military families.

These factors did not go unnoticed by real estate developers who had been hesitant to invest in the uncertain economic environment of the previous few years. These developers saw a window of opportunity, but did not know how long it would last. Those developers who still held potential investment capital which they had been sitting on during the recent tough times, recognized that the opportunity was ripe for relatively short term, predictable real estate developments of manageable scale. These would allow a quick turnover in their investment (2 to 5 years), allowing them to get in and out while the market was still stable and rewarding. This favored investments of manageable size which could sell quickly.

There was at the time, a need for affordable, yet upscale single family homes consisting of custom and semi - custom homes within reasonable commuting distance of San Antonio. Most of the developments that met that criteria were outside of Loop 1604 on the North and Northeast side, in the I-10 and I-35 Corridors. They had already been built out distant enough that there was little suitable land left for residential development within tolerable commuting distance, and the price of property there was quickly becoming prohibitive. Rush hour traffic conditions were becoming unmanageable. 

The Attraction

The developers of the Estates at Shannon Ridge gave careful consideration regarding exactly what market(s) they wanted to appeal to. They had to decide whether to target the heavy to leverage, half million to 1 million dollar price range homes, or those in the more manageable 2 hundred thousand to 5 hundred thousand dollar market range. Anything smaller would be trying to compete with the lower scale tract and semi-custom market and would defeat the advantages of the safer, quick turnaround investment strategy.

The Quandary

The ultra-chic market of the Hill Country had already grown uncomfortably distant to the north and east, and the high prices made them less affordable and less desirable to the average working family, and to those contemplating retirement. The less expensive tract home and manufactured housing development market was already pretty well saturated inside of Loop 1604, and in unincorporated and underdeveloped areas elsewhere, which provided few amenities. Besides, in order to make a sizeable investment (with a potential attractive return on capital) those areas would necessarily need to be larger in terms of the number of properties per acre, thus more unwieldy to manage and slower to sell out while the market was still stable and profitable. This was not the type of investment these developers had in mind. Properties consisting of larger and more expensive individual homes were much riskier in the marketplace, with their appeal to a smaller number of very discriminating buyers. Most homes of this type were built by developers as their own private/spec homes, with many appealing directly to the individual speculative market. This type of development was very capital intensive, and somewhat risky in case of a sudden economic downturn, not an ideal marketing strategy at the time.   

It quickly became apparent that the easiest solution to the problem was to open new, upscale housing developments to the south of San Antonio, outside of Loop 1604. Wilson County seemed to be an ideal location. It was within easy commuting distance, had good highways convenient for commuting access, room for growth of new housing developments and for the addition of the necessary supporting infrastructure. In addition, land was still available at a reasonable cost, the area esthetically very attractive and the local school districts well regarded. Due to all these advantages, The Estates at Shannon Ridge was born. The developers would provide the property, utilities, and other infrastructure, the local area contractors and builders would provide the homes, and local lenders would provide the financing. Home buyers would reap the benefit of available, desirable, affordable upscale housing. This was to prove to be a win-win proposition for all.   

 The Solution

Recent market surveys had revealed that the homes would best be custom built, on properties 2 to 5 acres in size, preferably wooded or at least naturally landscaped, have both rural and suburban appeal (A relatively new and unique, niche marketing concept quickly beginning to gain popularity) with easy access to major roadways leading to San Antonio. 

The concepts of a successful marketing strategy for the project had now been realized and the finishing touches instituted. The most important issue was composition of the Deed Restrictions which could make or break the whole project if ill advised or misguided. 

The Deed Restrictions

Why Are Deed Restrictions Necessary ?

Deed restrictions have become a popular and almost universally mandatory tool for developers to help preserve and protect the value of land, thereby making the property more attractive to buyers. Developers normally employ Restrictive Covenants (Subdivision Restrictions) to regulate the size and location of structures; quality, cost, and design of improvements; setback and yard requirements; architectural styles; and other uses of the property. Also, the activity of the homeowners may be regulated. For example, certain commercial enterprises may be prohibited in exclusively residential areas. Most lending institutions require some Deed Restrictions on any property they finance for Developers, The same is true for lenders who underwrite mortgages for individual home buyers. These restrictions allow for the preservation of property values, making lenders more confident in undertaking the funding of such projects. Should the need arise to someday foreclose on an individual property or an entire developing subdivision, (this is much more common than most people realize), they can recoup a larger portion of their initial capital investment than would have been possible without restrictions that protected the value and marketability of the properties. This also allows lenders to offer more competitive interest rates based on reduced risks.

Deed Restrictions - Concepts and Limitations as Conceived by Our Developers

Our Deed Restrictions were conceived and the limitations determined solely by the original Subdivision Developers, "Land Systems Company" and "Martex Corporation" at the time of  development, March 11, 1997.  The "Shannon Ridge Homeowners Association" was not founded until March 2, 2003, several years after that incorporation and thus has nothing to do with the content of the Restrictions. It is imperative that this fundamental fact be clearly understood.

Some believe that the Restrictions were simply poorly thought out, somewhat ambiguous (in some cases perhaps with intent), and not well written by today's standards. It must be remembered however that this was before our society became so extremely litigious, and while the internet was relatively undeveloped, making it difficult to glean information without professional help (lawyers, lots and lots of lawyers). The ability to locate, extract, and publish documents from the World Wide Web was difficult for most laymen, and small corporations lacking Legal and I.T. Departments. This is not meant as a criticism of anyone involved, but is a reflection of the challenges of the evolving economy, interest rates, and changing demographics of the time.

 The Content and Wording of the Deed Restrictions 

Actually, the restrictions were very cleverly conceived, and were written to allow them to appeal to both the semi - rural atmosphere (with its predominantly country flavor, with domestic animals, wildlife, and natural flora and fauna), and to the more traditional, purely suburban atmosphere (with it's stylish fences, pristine lawns, and paved driveways).  Careful consideration revealed that an atmosphere both rural and suburban could be accommodated in the same neighborhood at the same time. That would make for broader customer appeal, with the resulting increased economic security of having two marketplaces competing for the same product at the same time. It would require appropriate, rather moderate Deed Restrictions. The use of balanced, less precisely defined wording of minor restrictions while maintaining clear, unambiguous wording for major restrictions would serve the purpose nicely. Moreover, such restrictions could attain those goals while still satisfying the requirements of lenders.

There was some inexact (not quite truly ambiguous, yet not quite clearly defined) wording in the restrictions. Some examples are; "neat appearance: reasonable use: upkeep and maintenance: new materials: antique effect: unsightly objects: appropriate for the structure: detract from the appearance of the structure or the subdivision: reasonable completion time: a suitable enclosure: inoperative or unsightly vehicles: 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig type or size: noxious or offensive activity: annoyance or nuisance to other owners of tracts:"-  Ad infinitum.

This can be a double edged sword, as it leaves a few of our Deed Restrictions somewhat open to interpretation, and can make enforcement a bit more onerous. It allows more leeway in interpretation, however and thus a little more sense of freedom in the effort to define the character of our neighborhood, a little "wiggle room" if you will. The restrictions, although not onerous or draconian in nature, must be of sufficient nature to placate the needs of lenders, while still satisfying the desire for reasonable individual autonomy in the choice of esthetics and lifestyle by the homeowner. Most of our residents are able to sense the nature of these issues, and self policing has reduced the need for remedial action. Good taste and common sense are far more effective than written regulations. Of course, the application of strict, even handed enforcement, of the restrictions is necessary. When coupled with good judgment and a dash of compassion, the enforcement process can be as effective and amicable as possible. The attitude and approach of the enforcement entity or individual representative is largely responsible for accomplishing the desired goal. It is very important that the enforcing agency (HOA) Representatives be chosen wisely. Hence the reason for obviously fair and open elections.

Our restrictions do sufficiently define the major areas of regulation, narrowly defining such fundamental issues as; residential only land use: dwelling size: building materials and construction methods: setbacks and easement limitations: wells: driveway draining ditch permitting: completion dates: occupancy prior to completion: hunting and discharge of firearms prohibition: and pet and livestock restrictions. These restrictions cover the important aspects of residential construction, while eliminating the dictation of more, minor issues which don't really affect property value or comfortable lifestyle, such as how tall the grass may be, color of buildings (even mailboxes), roofing materials, antenna restrictions, when garbage cans may be placed at the curb, and other such non essential  limitations as are frequently contained in the restrictions of many competing neighborhoods.

Restriction Enforcement

While our restrictions are rather moderate, there are a few that some consider controversial, and are the most frequent subjects of complaint. Those restrictions include;

Article III Section 1 - Section 1. Land Uses and Building Type. (Residential Purpose Only). (Who wants to live next to a mobile or prefab home, or a log cabin built on a cinder block foundation?) (How about a lawnmower repair shop or commercial dog kennel?)

Article II Section 12 - Storage, Garbage, Refuse, and Prohibited Items.  (Unsightly objects and non - operational vehicles must be hidden from view.)

Article IV Section 1 - Animals.  (The prohibition of raising poultry and certain breeds of livestock being the most common complaint).

It is important that these types of restrictions in particular be evenly and aggressively enforced as they are highly emotionally charged issues

Disagreement with Restrictions

For those who disagree with our restrictions, there is really only one logical choice. - COMPLIANCE. 

As these issues are mostly clearly defined, and there is no current mechanism to amend or invalidate our restrictions, the obvious action is to simply comply with them. As the major ones have proven to be easy to enforce, and the courts have been inclined to award Plaintiff's legal expenses, attempts to circumvent them are generally expensive and futile. Remember that although the Shannon Ridge HOA did not write the restrictions, they do have the Right, and the duty, (while acting as an Agent of a Property Owner), to bring Action to enforce them. Any individual Property Owner in the Estates at Shannon Ridge has that same exact Right, but is normally less able to afford the expense of enforcement.

The Subject of Deed Restrictions Begs the Question:

Why Did the Developers Not Employ a Mandatory Homeowners Association?  

Not being clairvoyant, We can only hazard an educated guess.

Back in the mid 90s, internet forums and chat rooms were popping up all over the web. These gave voice to opinions and complaints on myriad subjects. As is to be expected, complaints floated to the top. Those who were dissatisfied with an issue were much more likely to make a public comment than those who were upbeat. Few subjects generated more animosity and complaints than the issue of homeowners associations.

Rather than detail the nature and validity of the complaints here, know that it is simply easier for a developer to be able to advertise "NO HOA" and be done with it, even though deed restrictions do still exist. Despite the potential enforcement issues generated down the road, the developer will be completely "off the hook", leaving the homeowners to either tackle enforcement problems individually, or to band together and form a voluntary homeowners association. The latter is what happened here in The Estates at Shannon Ridge.  

Formation of the Shannon Ridge Homeowners Association 

The Shannon Ridge Homeowners Association was officially formed on February 2, 2002. Several enlightened Property Owners banded together in order to  be better able to counter a move by some developers to build multi - unit, commercial properties, in spite of the restriction to the contrary. These Property Owners realized that they could more efficiently confront the issue if they joined forces to provide adequate funding for a common effort. Thus the Shannon Ridge Homeowners Association was born. It is a voluntary, non profit, dues based organization, incorporated under Article 3.02 of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. 

While the Articles of Incorporation were brief and adequate for the immediate purpose, it is my opinion that the By-Laws as written, were unsuitable for the longer term needs of governance of a voluntary Homeowners Association. This is not a reflection on any of the Principals involving in the founding. They did an exceptional job considering the circumstances. Because the organization was not mandatory, funding was extremely limited. There was an urgent need for a means to stop the developers in a timely fashion, so some short cuts were taken. Lacking financial backing for expensive legal advice, the founders were relegated to hastily employing methods such as cut and paste of such documents of similar organizations, and the use of commercial templates for wording and structure. None of these methods lent themselves particularly well to the needs of SRHOA. These shortcomings later proved to cause difficulty in dealing with controversial matters both internal and external.

It is important to grasp the difference between a Homeowners Association, and Deed Restrictions. Our HOA was not even formed until several years after our subdivision was legally formed and properties already sold. The HOA had, and still has, NO say over the wording of the Restrictions, and has NO RIGHT to enforce the Restrictions, beyond the right of any individual Shannon Ridge Subdivision Property Owner. What Shannon Ridge HOA DOES have, (even though a Voluntary Association) is the financial advantage of funds to allow legal pursuit of the enforcement of our Restrictions. 

As stated above, while the Homeowners Association lacks the ability to alter, modify, or repeal the Deed Restrictions, the Articles of Incorporation and the By-Laws can be changed by the will of the members. This is important to the ability of the Homeowners Association to select individuals and guidelines with respect to the methods and approach to restriction enforcement. This can determine whether The Association is perceived as a helpful, pleasant to engage, friendly guide, or an adversarial, authoritarian confrontational dictator. This is why fair, open and honest elections to the HOA Board of Directors is so fundamental. For more information on this subject please visit our Election Information Page.

Make No Mistake

The main reason the Shannon Ridge Estates Homeowners Association was ever formed was for the purpose of enforcement of the Deed Restrictions. The other purposes as stated in the By-Laws are were really just "frosting on the cake" and did not have a make or break affect on the formation of the Association. They were likely just inadvertently included along with the copies of restrictions of other, similar organizations. Although some effort has been made toward complying with those purposes, they were never given high priority or diligently pursued.

If some of these stated purposes have become unnecessary, outdated, or impede The Associations main goal of Deed Restriction Enforcement, they can be changed or deleted by amending the By-Laws.

Now is an ideal time for non-members to reexamine their reasons for not joining and paying the meager dues, instead of riding on the backs of our dues paying members. All Shannon Ridge residents are served by the Association's Deed Restriction Enforcement, and the enhancement of our property values as a result. If you have an unfavorable sentiment toward HOAs in general, perhaps based personal past experience, or based on rumor and opinions on social media, it may be time to reevaluate your opinion regarding the SRHOA.

Our subdivision restrictions are extraordinarily basic and reasonable giving us a great deal of freedom to enjoy our pastoral community.  For example, you are free to maintain a manicured lawn and equally free to have no yard at all.  Requirements for dwellings and other structures are also incredibly basic.  For example, you are free to construct a house with or without brick or stone and free to paint it with the color of your choice.  Unlike many subdivisions, there is no architectural review committee. Our restrictions also preserve our quality of life and protect our property values by prohibiting certain things that most people who live in subdivisions object to such as mobile homes, semis, junk cars, and junk yards.  To review our restrictions, please see: Subdivision Restrictions.

This webpage is not approved, endorsed, or sponsored by the Shannon Ridge HOA Board of Directors.


6/15/23 - 2:15 PM