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Area residents question nature of new Woodlands Village housing development

By P.J. WILLIAMS

Residents in North Forest will try again later this month to meet with the developer of the Woodland Village Subdivision who they say is changing the nature of the project he promised to the community.

In April 2003, residents met with Joe Fogarty, president of Arete Real Estate Development at Grace Cathedral Church at a Northeast Community Empowerment meeting.

Residents say that at that time, Fogarty presented them with a plan to develop the land with over 900 Royce built homes.

“We know that home ownership stablizes a community and the community tentatively supported the project,” explained Jackie Mayhorn, president of Super Neighborhood #47.

According to Mayhorn, Fogarty then asked City Council to support a lease to purchase subdividion on the 236-acre tract.

According to a report from a Northeast Beyond 2000 meeting, “At a Housing Initiative Committee meeting that was chaired by Council Member Gordon Quan, the developer stated that 5,000 to 6,000 homes in six subdivisions throughout Houston would be made available through a lease to purchase program underwritten by Freddie Mac.

Nine hundred plus homes would be located in northeast Houston in the Woodlands Village subdivision.”

Residents are concerned that a lease to own development would destablize the community. Mayhorn said research shows homes in such neighborhoods experience high ownership turnover.

City council members have tagged the project so that the community can have time to collect more community feedback on the project and information.

Community members organized a meeting for Feb.2 to discuss their differing ideas of the project. However, Fogarty did not attend the meeting. Instead, Scott Brogan, president of The Kaleidoscope Group met with the residents to hear their concerns and take them back to Fogarty.

The civic groups planned another meeting with Fogarty for Feb. 19 at 7pm at Grace Cathedral Church.

“I think it’s in his best interest to be there this time,” Mayhorn said.