Kyle to crack down on unmaintained easements

Kyle city staff may assess fees and fines to residents who don’t maintain privately-owned easements on their property.

On Aug. 6, the Kyle City Council discussed placing the onus of privately-owned easement maintenance on residents who are not under a homeowners association (HOA). While no formal decision was made at that time, city leaders expect to bring the item back for a vote at a later date.

The issue involved a pair of easements between Masonwood Drive and Emerald Fields Lane in the Masonwood subdivision. City officials and Masonwood residents have disagreed on who is responsible for maintaining the area. High grass and discarded tree limbs is a regular problem, officials said.

Drainage easements across Kyle vary from publicly to privately owned and can be maintained by land owners, HOAs or city staff. In recent years, citizens have left mowing to the city in order to maintain easements to code.

However, mowers and staff face obstacles due to private property regulations and the impactful nature of the city’s heavy equipment.

Kyle City Council member Tracy Scheel said some property owners deny the city onto their property as the mowers and their machines can leave deep ruts or trails in yards.

“Right now, as the ordinance states, it is the responsibility of the homeowner or the HOA to maintain the drainage easements,” Scheel said. “For the city to get their crews into these drainage easements, they actually have to get onto homeowner property on their front yards, with their heavy equipment.”

The average property owner will not be able to mow overgrown easements due to the angle of the land, height of the grass and types of machines needed to properly complete the job, said Public Works Director Harper Wilder.

“Unmaintained drainage can definitely stop (drains) up and reduce your flow,” Wilder said. “We come in, fix it for them, it looks nice and pretty and then six months later they are calling us out again because no one maintained it in the meantime.”

Later this month, city leaders expect to bring the item back for a formal vote and decide when to mow the easements for a final time. At that point, a notice could be issued to residents who would then be responsible for maintenance.

Additionally, city leaders could discuss how much to fine residents who would be out of compliance with the new rules.

According to the city municipal code, a $5 drainage maintenance fee is applied to homeowners to pay for the care of city-owned stormwater drainage easements.

Mayor Travis Mitchell said the fee is not used to cover maintenance of privately-owned easements.

Per city code, Kyle is authorized to regularly inspect privately owned easements and monitor maintenance plans provided by property owners.

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