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Posts posted by woody_hawkeye

  1. My advice is to check with your municipality to see what kind of licensing a regular business in an office would need. Then ask if the same items would be needed if you worked out of your home.

    Many cities have become very friendly to home-based business in the last ten years. They offer the city a source of commerce and tax revenue while having nearly zero additional cost to the infrastructure.

    Some cities (New York) have no licensing requirements for most home-based businesses. My city is not one of them.

    I am required to pay a bi-annual licensing fee (about $250) to the city, plus a fee to the county, plus a fee to the secretary of state, plus a fee to the state department of revenue, plus all the taxes that each level of government demands.

    The point of that mini-rant is that while The Woodlands may not require you to license your home business, you may still be required to register it with the county or the state, which is why it's good to find out all the things a regular business would have to go through.

    You're already aware that most home-based business licenses restrict the amount of visitor traffic to your home. But they can also restrict other things. For example, if someone orders a printed photograph from me, I'm not allowed to print it in my home, because the city considers that manufacturing, which is not permitted in home-based businesses in my city. Further, I'm not supposed to do any kind of photo printing because the laws were written back when "photo printing" meant "barrels of chemicals" and not "ink jet printer." Since I don't have a big photo printer I have to send my prints out to be done anyway, so this hasn't been a problem. But it pays to read lots of the fine print, even if you think it doesn't apply to your business.

    When I did some research on opening a business in New York I found that you only need a license from the city if you're involved in certain industries, like waste hauling, or hot dog vending. In Chicago EVERY business, no matter how small, requires a license.

    Every city is different. But I've found that if you go and ask questions in person, rather than on the phone, they're much nicer and more patient with you and you get the answers you need the first time.

    In this particular case, this is regulated by an association, not a city. Basically, some people have been clamoring for our community to be a city but having local ordinances can be a big issue. Our community emphasizes transparent coexistence with neighbors in a natural setting. That means the property must blend in with neighbors according to deed restrictions and that the business must not be a store front where customers do business. The restriction says no business in home residences unless approved. Basically if the entire neighborhood want to be "zoned" as commercial, the Design Review Committee will proabably approve it. If there are complaints by neighbors without approval, the business has to be shut down adn would likely face serious consequences. Applying to have a business will likely be denied unless there are some irresponsible people enforcing the restrictions, which would be quite unusual here. Not applying when there is a restriction can cause a legal case from the community, paid for by the problematic resident. Every home buyer must sign a written agreement to comply with the standards. Rentors should do so also, but the contract may not have that stipulation. If not, the landlord is at risk. It is my belief that a business operated transparently without any visibility whatsoever from the street is not in violation of this code. An example of that would be a computer or telephone based business. Behaviors impacting such decisions include generation of noise, increase in traffic (especially in Cul-de-sacs and areas where traffic is minimum and every automobile is noticed), appearance of the residence (usually controlled by other covenants), chemicals in drainage systems, etc.

  2. After reading through this, I can see many people see the issues in a similar light as I do. Generally, the city has some beauty and some ugly. Let's call it the Ugly Duckling for now. As the city further matures, there will always be opportunities to think "beautification". That idea has already been leveraged on some of its freeways. Put away the idea of sound walls for beautify. That is just more concrete. Instead, get green with the thinking. The freeways and viaducts of traffic where transient people passing through get their impression of the city and those coming into the city get their initial impression. Look at I45 where many trees have been planted. Those pines are growing and will in time (10 years) make the trip on the freeway much much more pleasant. Trash on the road needs to have a clean strategy similar to what we have for paths. "Adopt a Freeway plan". The problem with the current situation is that the cleanup is too infrequent. It costs money. Comparing new rebuilt freeways with old ones causes the comparison to be tainted. Newness almost always makes a structure look cleaner. Taking something old and making it look better is often a job for landscaping but we can't forget that some buildings can be washed and painted. A number of structures on the freeways need to be cleaned up but how do you go about it? With freeway frontage taxes? On another front, there are areas of concrete jungles where one "feels" a totally run down city. I "feel" that in Southwest Houston around Hillcroft. There seems to be no dirt at all, and there may be no solution for areas like that, except a bulldozer. Heavy traffic, small lots, tightly packed commercial areas on streets that have been widened since inception to improve area transportation issues, dominate the landscape there.

  3. Hi Woody,

    With the expansion of Research Forest "still" as possiabilty--I personally have "No problems whatsoever" with the buyer's agents mentioning this to the potential homeowners'................as it is simply the "right thing to do" :D , even if this may be ten years out.................

    The house sold--no problems, other than a slower than average market ( that's life in a tough economy)

    I lived in the Woodlands for over 8 yrs prior to moving to West U early last summer to be closer to work,I held various positions on village boards, served in area clubs over the years.........have friends who currently work for the community association.................still go back and play in our beloved "poker group"

    From time to time, correct information can be tough to come by, although that is "not uncommon" in most muncipalities................... :rolleyes:

    Yeah, I see your point. It has not changed much here. You get info and then think you have a handle on the subject but then something happens and everything changes. I am guided somewhat by what one of my readers told me lately about the home she bought a year or so ago. She got carbon monoxide poisoning, is totally upset about the noise and blames the real estate woman for her problems. Although I am not "sold" on her story, I do worry a little about what is said and what is withheld when selling a house here. I know my real estate agent did an excellent job in priming me for the purchase. I felt well informed and there were no surprises except for a gasoline station that was built here about two years after I moved in. Just keep the expectations aligned within reality and the buyer will be OK. No one likes surprises with such a large investment.

  4. So you've been out there?

    Not me personally but someone told me that there was little done. Maybe I can go out when I am that way in the next two weeks. It could be an economic stimulus to the community, so I would hope that the person who told me that looked in the wrong place. We need all we can get now to liven up the economy.

  5. Woody: I don't tend to believe that this is a "Dead issue" although any mention of Research Forest going thru to the mythical "1978" that you mentioned above may well be................... :wacko:

    I own several rental properties, one of which backed to Reseach Forest and is very near Branch Crossing...............

    I have listed and sold that said property as of late

    All the buyer's agents who have shown the property mentioned the possibilty of Research Forest connecting thru to "2978" ( not 1978---just where is "1978" anyway???) to potential buyers.................

    I simply cannot imagine Woodlands Realtors bringing that up if it wasn't still a lingering possibilty ( they must mention it due to possible future legal ramifications) due to the "tough selling climate" that we are currently experincing..........

    Sorry 1978 was a typo. It is 2978. This is information I bring to you directly from the development company about three months ago. About two months ago, the commissioner told me that it could come forward in time but that is speculation. He thinks it probably is needed. But right now? Nothing planned. I am a resident of The Woodlands, directly involved in its activities and publish a blog on much of what I hear and research. What you say is certainly a lingering possibility, but the date is more like 10 years in the future, virtually non-existent for us now. I would be careful about selling any properties with the extension as a given, imminent or even good possibility near term unless there is factual information to the contrary. I would also like to add that the Chronicle is sometimes incorrect. I asked for a correction in their last published e-article on related road widening plans. I hope they fixed it before the article hit the physical paper.

  6. Have they done a single thing to the site yet? Is there even one of those cheesy wood signs with a rendering along the highway? I haven't been over that way in a long time (years). Have they even cleared the land yet?

    I am in agreement. A doubtful project for near term. It certainly has not seen the light this year as we originally envisioned!

  7. Bachanon- I am with you on your sentiments. I hope all development projects keep the trees and the concept of forest. They all won't have the creek issues we have here, so in my opinion, those communities can have better and more preservation than the developer here. Ultimately, The Woodlands could be one of the lesser green quality developments as a result. I would hope so.

  8. This article has bankruptcy imminent.

    A little something is missing in conclusions here. Bankruptcy by one of the partners does not necessarily translate to a failure by the development operating company here. The operating partnership in financially independent and self sustaining as long as it provides the contractual revenue payment which it can and will through 2009. The 50% partnership of course could be up for sale if there is a bankruptcy. Under chapter 11, the asset has value that could be used to help pay off debts. It would be up to the corporate office to determine how to pay off debts, but it also determined by agreement with the chapter 11 process. It would not be the first time an interest in a development has been sold. ... bad timing relative to the economy and the difficulty finding loanable cash.

  9. Some other road extension news:

    Kuykendahl Road Extension

    Location: Kuykendahl Road and FM 1488

    Description: The extension of Kuykendahl Road to FM 1488 is being designed

    by TXDOT, with bidding scheduled for 2009.

    link: http://www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/Doc...iew.asp?DID=313

    So did you get the info you wanted? The answer to the original question should have been "there are no plans in the near future to connect Research to 1978". As far as I can tell, that is a dead issue and cast in concrete.

  10. Has anyone been on Rayford Road since Montgomery County resurfaced it? You can actually hear the car's radio without having the volume turned up high. What a pleasant experience and noticable difference in sound. I had not thought about the vehicle passengers and the quality of traveling until I went out there, paying attention to the surface noise. I considered the inside of my truck quiet for the first time in a very long time.

  11. I seem to remember a realtor who kept plans for lots of houses and models. Don't remember her name, offhand, but I'll bet there are a few obsessive/compulsive realtors who collect these things as houses come out, so that they are equipped with the floor plans when they sell the houses years down the road. Maybe start calling the local realtors?

    Who knows, I might even have one in my piles, somewhere, because we offered on a Treehouse once (just off Gosling in that Hidden Lakes area, on Misty Morning). If I find it one of these days, (I'm in a major declutter mode this year), I'd be happy to send you a copy, but I'd try realtors first.

    Our neighborhood is circa 94. Would that help if I could find one among my neighbors?

  12. I have a perception not as a seller but as a tax paying individual who has to deal with comps every year with the county. We are in a housing demand scenario here. I have not seen a low comp lately as a result of nearby sales at subsidized quick sale values. That remonds me, I missed my appointment this year since I was on vacation. Need to call them.

  13. Montgomery County has been ranked number 16 in the entire Nation for job growth.


    This is interesting. South county is growing at a rapid pace and the outflow has begun to take effect as South County fills up. North Harris County is also seeing heavy growth but relative to the size of Houston, we don't see it proportionally in such statistics. The jobs are here while the population growth is partially there. I wonder what effect the new theme park will have.

  14. I am hoping the segments to 290 from the east are approved soon. We need it for the traffic in the area of Gosling and the new village, as well as Kuykendahl. Right now, traffic heading for Houston has to be diverted to The Woodlands and shipped over to I45 or taken south on Kuykendahl or Gosling. Those two routes are not generally very fast. We are getting too much traffic for the Woodlands Parkway and the new village has only begun! Area continues to boom.

  15. If you have no business traffic you can conduct business from your home - writers, computer based work, telephone based work, etc. This is strictly enforced. My advice is to meet your clients elsewhere. If you say nothing, you may get away with it, but any neighbor can file a complaint and they will if they even suspect you are doing business in the home. This is a uniform agreement for all homeowners by deed restriction. It should have been part of the rental contract, to conform to deed restrictions.

    If you want to get an exception, you need to go to the association's covenants enforcement group. You can do that by going to the service request option on the front page. It will be a process and take some time.

  16. The Woodlands submitted something in the CoH Planning Commission to extend Woodlands Parkway but it was Omitted b/c it's not in the ETJ jurisdiction.

    Hopefully it's coming soon. And I wonder if that includes expansion sideways as well? Seems like the stakes are a good indicator.

    There is definitely a plan to widen the road from the east to Kuykendahl. The road has already been surveyed and staked.

    I am running a survey, if anyone is interested, on the automation of issuing citations to help move traffic and provide better safety. The survey includes both traffic light and speed violations. The survey will be open for three months. I also have a related article on the subject with pros and cons and am seeking input via comments in the blog or here. I prefer people take the survey who use the roads in The Woodlands or Montgomery County, but have placed no restrictions. I value everyone's input.

    Survey WoodlandsCommentary.com

    Article Using Cameras for traffic Law Enforcement

  17. Nothing rotten here. There are two ways that cutting a tree without the owner's permission can become criminal. One way would be theft, for example, illegal logging. In that scenario, the level of theft would be the value of the timber stolen. The second way would be criminal mischief, or destruction of property. In this scenario, the level of offense would be determined by the cost to restore the property to its previous undamged state. In the case of a tree, the cost to replace the cut tree with a tree of similar size determines the level of offense. If the cost is over $1,500 (not hard to do for a mature tree), it becomes a felony.

    Yeah, $1500 value is easily within the cost of a mature pine (30-50 years old). I thought the number for a felony was much higher. Illegal logging is certainly a different way of looking at cutting a tree. I like that idea.

    What I would like to know is how much insurance or the IRS considers to be the loss value of a tree. Anyone know the answer to this?

  18. I was gonna say "If a tree falls in The Woodlands, it's probably a pine"...

    Not sure the article is correct. If it is, there is more to it than meets the eye. Cutting the tree is not the issue if it is a felony. That would be destruction of property. Looks to me like the law officer went for bodily harm. The kids knew more what they were doing then the article says. A 17 year-old is not that dumb. Looks to me that The Chronicle has missed something or printed misinformation, but not sure what that would be. "Something is rotten in Denmark".

  19. Hi Woody,

    I just moved out of The Woodlands ( down to West U---nice and close to work :D ) and I am wondering if you have any idea as to when they "figure" ( and I use that term "loosely") Creekside will be built out.........

    I also heard thru the "grapevine" that there will be "yet another additional village" built after Creekside ( although it may bear some sort of similiar name--like Spring Creek Place, or something of the sort.....)

    Got any info on that "rumor", B) or even any idea when Creekside will be completed??

    I have not heard a firm date. My understanding has been that the development company would like to get it done before 2010 but that sounds totally unreasonable to me. I see maybe 2014. There is only one other new development for The Woodlands, which is on 2978 where the Magnolia ISD will be the school system. That opens in 2009. That one will probably finish before Creekside Park Village but it may be a race. I am trying to think of its name but it isn't like the one you have stated. I will be looking for better answers to yoru questions. I have an article to write on the subject soon.

  20. Quick Update: The commute averages about 50 minutes door-to-door. This is leaving from Alden Bridge, taking the I-4/Hardy Toll Road/610/59/288 route. I leave the house at 6:30AM and I am in the office at 7:30AM.

    That is very good. About 45 minutes to downtown if you leave at 5:45.

  21. Took a look at Creekside Park the other day. Kind of disappointed in that it does not look like the Woodlands. It looks like any other development. Loads of clearcutting in many sections, no natural trees, very wide open entrance. Just not what I'm used to from The Woodlands. Plus, its sort of separated from the rest of the Woodlands and on Gosling. Heck, the dumpy trailer park a mile or two down Gosling has more wooded lots than those in Creekside Park.

    Maybe it will get better over time as it grows, but its clearly done in a different character than the rest of the Woodlands. But, it looks like the Woodlands has been moving toward fewer natural trees on its new developements and commercial areas recently too.

    Isn't that the truth. I have been disappointed but they told me that the streets must be higher and the homes higher than that and many of the trees will simply die with the added dirt on their roots. The development company is supposed to plant additional trees. They have a policy not to cut the big ones down unless necessary.

  22. great article. you've answered every single question that has occurred to me about the smart signals. as far as the system not working at night, i'm not so sure. i've pulled up to an intersection where my light just turned red. i was the only car at the intersection. the light immediately turned back to green as i came to a stop. this has occurred several times.

    It may have been on "trigger only" mode. No one monitors these lights at night. Let's all watch and see how they act at night. I have never run across this situation before. The rectangular box has its limitations. I wish sometimes it would trigger much further out and not so close to the signal light.

  23. I have been working on some interesting topics lately. This topic I found particularly interesting on the traffic management system of Montgomery County, so I wrote an article on it. It came out of an interview I had with the county commissioner here, Ed Chance and a show and tell presentation by his staff. This system is crucial to mobility in south Montgomery County.


  24. Talks have begun between Montgomery County and Metro to extend the HOV lanes from Cypresswood to FM 1488. These lanes would be Diamond lanes and would not have a barrier.

    FINALLY!!!! I say they make part of the shoulder the new diamond lane. God knows, it's wide enough for probably three lanes!


    I am thinking that this would be a good addition to the mobility thread.

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