Steiner HOA approves $58,000+ for repairs, dead plant removal from Texas freeze

Photo by Ellie Seitzler

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

The Steiner Ranch Master Association board of directors approved a motion on March 16 to spend $38,880 to remove dead plants resulting from the Texas winter freeze in mid February. Earlier this month the SRMA approved to spend $19,484 for emergency irrigation repairs also resulting from the storm.

“Thousands (of pipes) have blown out and cracked because of the winter storm… Almost all of them. Some had a half-inch crack,” said Brandon Fojt of Urban Dirt, who gave a presentation about the irrigation system damages at the March 16 SRMA monthly meeting via Zoom.

On March 8, the SRMA board approved to fix the freeze damaged pumps and RPZ valves. Damage estimates for the master association were $13,718 and made up the bulk of the price tag, then $2,883 for Bellagio and for the Grove each. The money for the repairs is coming from the reserve funds.

Two weeks ago, some 80% of the irrigation system throughout Steiner Ranch was up and running, according to Fojt.

SRMA board member Christina Morales asked about how the community could prevent this from happening again. “In the future, what should we do to prevent this massacre of our pipings?”

There are options that could be explored, Fojt said. “It was an expensive storm.”  

Fojt also shared details about the $38,880 Urban Dirt proposal to remove dead plants that did not survive the frigid temperatures.

“Our professional recommendation is let’s not wait for a couple months down the road because the brown leaf will not turn green,” Fojt said. 

“Texas sage, spineless prickly pear, agaves, viburnum, glossy abelia, some palms, rosemary, and pampas grass will not recover and are dead,” the proposal states. “Steiner Ranch has a significant amount of this plant material and we are recommending immediate removal due to no hope of recovery.”  

“I’d rather see a clean bed than something that has something dead in it,” Fojt said.

The removal includes plant and root removal with debris hauled off and taken to a recycling center.

Morales asked about the plantings, if the community could think about hardier plants that could withstand freezing temperatures like the February storm. 

 “We had a handful of plant material that did survive but most of the plant material is designed for down to the 20s,” Fojt said.

SRMA board member Chris Langevin motioned that the board approve the $38,880 proposal and that it come out of the enhancement fund. All of the board members were in favor. 

Morales asked if the plant removal is covered by insurance.

“We’re trying to get this recognized as a loss,” said Joe Ristuccia, Steiner Ranch general manager. “We have some coverage for some trees and plants, unfortunately the coverage is for vehicle damage, lightning, fire.”

The winter storm brought other expensive damages to the community including plumbing leaks and appliances that don’t work any more because of water damage at the Towne Square facilities. Ristuccia is working on these issues with the insurance company and the total price of these repairs was not given. 

“With repairs at Towne Square, when we fix leaks and turn the water back on, leaks pop up in other places,” said Ristuccia. It has been recommended that the facilities are replumbed, he said, but no action was taken on that at Tuesday’s meeting.