Over the last several days, I have been researching and talking to officials about the use of guns in a subdivision within the unincorporated areas of Polk County Texas, like Holiday Lake Estates. I found out several things, from various sources:
Deed Restrictions for HLE – ALL Sections: “No hunting or shooting of firearms shall be permitted in the Subdivision.” Note: This is in the area of the HLE Deed Restrictions that say – “the following reservations, restrictions, covenants and easements to apply uniformly on the use, occupancy and conveyance of all lots in said Subdivision“. Note: Per Texas state law, Deed Restrictions ‘run with the land’.
Texas State Law: Link to firearms law from the state of Texas for unincorporated areas: –> Click Here. Since I could find nothing specific on County websites, I asked Ken Hambrick and he advised me to talk to the Polk County Sheriff about this. I did that on 9/26/2016 and I was told several things, by a representative there. First, there are state laws for ‘disorderly conduct’ that would apply – –> Click Here. Read Sec. 42.01. DISORDERLY CONDUCT, items 4 through 9. Then, he told me to review the Texas Penal Code for ‘deadly conduct’, which led me to this info – –> Click Here. Note: Further info below
Polk County Justice Court, Precinct 1: My next step was to go to Judge Longino’s office. (Note: Further info below). I asked if the normal Justice Court forms and procedures for Deed Restriction violations could be used if the Deed Restrictions were not being enforced by the POA Board. I was told that they could be used. Links to these procedures – –> Click Here and Fees –> Click Here and Forms –> Click Here .
Further Info: First, I use clickable links to laws, documents, etc., because these laws or documents could change in the future. I leave it up to you to click on the link and read the data within it, knowing it will be the most current info.
When I discussed the incident that started my research on this, the the representative of the Polk County Sheriff, he explained the safety considerations that they apply to the use of guns in subdivisions – in the unincorporated areas of Polk County, some state laws do not apply but others do. He told me that, at the very least, disorderly conduct and deadly conduct laws applied. The Sheriff, when called on these matters, looks at how and where the shooting occurred, such as – did the bullet go across a property boundary, public road, public location, etc.. In those circumstances, they would take action. Most properties within HLE are not large enough to allow for a bullet not to go across these boundaries. But, he did say that if someone has set up a device that could stop the bullet from going across a property line (ie: berm, bullet trap, shoot toward ground, etc.), they would not take action. In that situation, he warned that if for some reason, the target was not hit, or the bullet ricocheted off the ‘trap’, and hit a person, building, etc, the Sheriff would get involved. If you are in doubt, calling the Sheriff is a prudent thing to do.
If the Sheriff is unable to take actions, the Deed Restrictions could be applied. After seeing a comment by one Board member about not enforcing Deed Restrictions in the situation that started my research, I went to Judge Longino’s office to see if the county, through the Justice Court procedures could be used for a resident to get the Deed Restrictions enforced. And, I found out that in the case of a POA that does not enforce deed restrictions, it could be used. If you have called the Sheriff in situations of concern, that would be allowed in court as proof that you have tried to resolve the matter. But, the clerk did explain that the first step in the procedure is to send a certified letter to the resident who violated the restrictions, by the person bringing about the complaint. If the resident does not reply with a resolution, within the 10 days after signing for receipt of the certified letter, then Justice court procedures should be used.
On A Personal Note: Please do not misinterpret what I am saying here as a my own personal beliefs about my interactions with my neighbors. I am not ‘a snitch’ in normal circumstances. In the particular situation that let me to do further research, there were some concerns about human and animal safety. That concerns me.