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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lake Living at Its Finest???

So You Want to Live on Lake Bridgeport? But what if you can’t even go boating?

Buyer Beware: Read the CC&R’s before your buy!!!

Lake Bridgeport is 13,000 acres big. There’s plenty of room for many great, long boating excursions. So what’s the problem? The problem is that Lake Bridgeport is a very remote lake in the wilderness of rural Wise County, Texas. There is only one place to purchase gas on this lake, and its way down on the south side of the lake at Runaway Bay. The only other place to purchase gas was the marina on the NW side of the lake, which has been closed for some time and is currently up for sale. Oh well . . . gas purchased on this lake was never cheap!

Long-time residents of Lake Bridgeport know that the ability to keep and store a few cans of gas is essential if they want to enjoy any boating at all. So be very cautious about buying into highly restricted developments: HOAs, or POA’s. Some POA’s, such as Lake Bridgeport’s new upscale gated community Grand Harbor (way up river on the NW side of the lake), restrict resident’s right to store gas. One of the activities “especially prohibited” is the “Storage of flammable liquids in excess of five gallons.”

So how far do you think those five gallons will get your boat, not to mention your lawn mower and other maintenance equipment that you will need to maintain your 1-2 acre lot??? Of course, you could always boat the 20 minute trip completely across the lake to Runaway Bay for gas. Or you could drive the 40 minute round trip into Chico (the nearest gas station) for gas every hour or so. Not practical???

Now you might think that you can just ignore those restrictions, but think again. Violation of any restrictions results in fines and those are fines with interest. If you fail to pay your fine, your home and land is subject to non-judicial foreclosure.

But on the bright side, you can always decide to skip boating and just watch boats from your dock. Actually, you may not be watching many boats because you will probably be spending much of your time maintaining your dock. Some POA’s, such as Grand Harbor, will give you about 10 days before sending you a written notice of a maintenance violation. If the owner doesn’t fix the dock immediately, the POA has the right to come onto your dock and to get it repaired and charge the owner. Since the dock is secured by a Vendor’s Lien, failure to pay can result in having your home and land subject to non-judicial foreclosure.

Now anyone who has lived on wild and stormy Lake Bridgeport (in the heart of Tornado Alley) for any time knows that dock repair is a constant process and very hard to come by without a lengthy wait. After all, there are only one or two dock builders on this lake. Most long-time residents have learned how to make repairs themselves. But if you live in a POA, such as Grand Harbor, you won’t be able to do any kind of “homemade” type of dock. So if your POA has an approved list of contractors (a very, very short list no doubt), and most HOAs/POA’s do, that’s who you will have to wait for. In the mean time, just be prepared to eat all those fines! Or, if you can afford it, let your POA fix it for you.

Lessons learned:

Be cautious about buying into Resort Communities with boilerplate CC&R’s that were designed by urban developers for urban living when you live miles away from anything remotely URBAN!

Get a copy of the current CC&R’s long before you close!!! Go over them with a fine tooth comb and have your attorney go over them with you. You can also get a copy of the CC&R’s at the County Clerk’s office.

Evaluate just why you want to live on a lake. Your answers should direct you to the development that’s right for you.

Note to Long-time Residents: Please take pity on the “poor” fools who didn’t know what they were buying into. Most likely you are going to be towing many more stranded boaters!!!

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