Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
Appeal from the 114th District Court of Smith County, Texas (Tr. Ct. No. 08-2127-B).
Panel consisted of Worthen, C.J., Griffith, J., and Hoyle, J.
James T. Worthen, Chief Justice.
Lanty Wylie and Patricia Wylie appeal the trial court's orders denying their motion for summary judgment and granting Appellees, Hide-A-Way Lake Club, Inc.'s and Hide-A-Way Lake Community Church's, respective motions for summary judgment as well as its awards of attorney's fees to Appellees. The Wylies raise six issues on appeal. We affirm.
Hide-A-Way Lake is a residential community that is incorporated as a general law municipality and is located northwest of Tyler, Texas. It is governed by a homeowners association called Hide-A-Way Lake Club, Inc. (the Club). Hide-A-Way Lake (the Subdivision) was developed in the 1960s by two corporations (collectively the Developers) that platted parcels of land into units consisting of demarcated lots.
In early August 1969, the Developers deeded certain property in the Subdivision to the Club. This deed (the Common Area Deed) excluded from the conveyance, among other things, the residential lots in the Subdivision. The Common Area Deed also contained restrictive covenants that stated, in pertinent part, as follows:
1. No noxious or offensive activities shall be carried on upon any of said property nor shall anything be done thereon which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance to the Subdivisions adjacent to the same.
2. No commercial business activity shall be established or operated upon any of the land herein conveyed, SAVE and EXCEPT, however, that this shall not prohibit the operation or granting of concessions for the operation of commercial recreation or entertainment facilities which would contribute or tend to contribute to the enjoyment and welfare of the member property owners of Hide-A-Way Lake, Inc. and Lake Hide-A-Way, Inc. Subdivisions in Smith County, Texas.
4. At all times, the land and improvements herein conveyed shall be used and maintained for the exclusive benefit and enjoyment of the member property owners of Hide-A-Way Lake and Lake Hide-A-Way Subdivisions and other members of Grantee.
On August 6, 1969, Lake Hide-A-Way, Inc. filed in the deed records of Smith County, restrictions, covenants, and conditions applicable to Hide-A-Way Lake Unit No. 41 Subdivision "for the purpose of carrying out a general plan of development and maintenance of the subject premises." These restrictions stated, in pertinent part, as follows:
1. No lot shall be used for other than residential purposes (except as elsewhere herein provided) . . . .
10. No noxious or offensive activity shall be carried on upon any lot nor shall anything be done thereon which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance to the subdivision in which said lot is located.
11. No sale, transfer, lease or other disposition of any lot in the Hide-A-Way Lake Unit No. 41 Subdivision shall be consummated unless and until the Purchaser or transferee has applied for and has been accepted as a member of the Hide-A-Way Lake Club . . . .
12. Upon acceptance of an application for membership in Hide-A-Way Lake Club and the simultaneous execution of a sales contract or the acceptance of a Deed, each owner shall become a member of Hide-A-Way Lake Club, . . . owned and operated by Grantor, its successors or assigns, for the purpose of providing the members with clubhouse and private recreation facilities in the area, and to establish and maintain parks, lanes, lakes, and security protection for the common benefit of lot owners . . . .
During 1972, a group of residents began meeting in various homes to worship. In 1973, the group began negotiating with the Club's board of directors to obtain a site in Unit 41 designated as a park next to the lake's spillway property. On December 23, 1973, the Club and Hide-A-Way Lake Community Church (the Church) entered into a twenty-five year lease of the park property on which the construction of a church building was completed in 1975. In February 1976, the Club's board of directors formally granted the Church permission to use the spillway property for parking. On January 20, 1984, the Club deeded the leased property to the Church as well as an adjoining one-half acre of property.
Amended Deed Restrictions
In August 1994, for the purpose of "carry[ing] out a general plan of development and maintenance[, ]" the lot owners in the Unit 41 Subdivision adopted amended deed restrictions. These amended restrictions stated, in pertinent part, as follows:
II. SPECIFIC LAND USE
A. All lots shall be used for residential purposes. No business usage is allowed if such use entails multiple business-connected vehicle parking. Also, no merchandise, commercial stock, or materials may be visibl[y] stored on any lot.
IV. GENERAL REGULATIONS
H. No noxious or offensive activity shall be carried on upon any lot nor shall anything be done thereon which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance to lot owners within the Club boundaries.
V. OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF RECREATIONAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL FACILITIES
A. No sale, transfer, lease, or other disposition of any lot within the boundaries of Hide-A-Way Lake Club shall be consummated unless and until the purchaser or transferee has applied for and has been approved as a member of Hide-A-Way Lake Club, Inc .....
The Wylies Move to Hide-A-Way Lake and the Church's Activities
In February 1998, the Wylies purchased a home on a lot in the Unit 41 Subdivision. In the spring of 1998, the Club granted an application by the Church for a permit to install a wastewater treatment system, including two spray heads in the southern edge of the spillway property. In the fall of 1999, the Club granted the Church's application to construct an elevator in the spillway, which included the installation of two guard lights on either side of the elevator building.
In September 2003, the Club entered into a lease agreement with the Church for the portion of the spillway it had been using for parking. The lease restricted the Church's use of the land to parking and the wastewater spray field. The lease had a one year term and automatically renewed under the same terms unless terminated by one of the parties.
In the spring of 2006, the Church paved an additional area for parking on its side of the spillway channel and constructed a stairway from the church building to the spillway parking lot. On July 24, 2008, the Club entered into a new lease agreement with the Church, which expanded the leased premises slightly.
The Wylies' Suit
The Wylies filed the instant suit against the Club in August 2008. They amended their pleadings on August 25, 2009, and added the Church as a defendant. By their suit, the Wylies sought a declaratory judgment that the applicable deed restrictions, encroachment policy, lease between the Church and the Club, Rules and Regulations of Hide-A-Way Lake, bylaws, and any other governing documents of Hide-A-Way Lake barred the Club from entering into its lease with the Church and barred the existence of the parking lot and septic system on the spillway property. They further sought a declaration that people were barred from parking in the spillway for church services, conferences, and/or permanent parking. The Wylies also sought to recover damages for breach of contract, negligence, nuisance, and for violations of Texas Property Code, Section 202.004. The Club and the Church filed multiple motions for summary judgment, both traditional and no evidence. The Wylies filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a finding from the trial court that they had standing to bring suit. The trial court granted the Club's and the Church's motions for summary judgment in part and denied the Wylies' motion for summary judgment. The Wylies nonsuited their nuisance claim, and the matter proceeded to trial to determine the award of attorney's fees to be awarded the Club, if any. Ultimately, the trial court rendered a final judgment that the Wylies take nothing by their suit and awarded attorney's fees to the Club and the Church. This appeal followed.
In their first issue, the Wylies argue that the trial court erred in denying their motion for summary judgment ...