Open Letter to Terlingua Ranch Property Owners

Open Letter to Terlingua Ranch Property Owners

[The following is an open letter to all Terlingua Ranch property owners regarding proxy voting rights. It was composed by Don Mahan and Kathleen O’ Keefe.]

Terlingua Ranch Property Owner,

I would like to thank all those owners that voted no, to the last two requests to raise maintenance fees for Terlingua Ranch. Thanks to you , there has been no further increases in fees and the board has finally realized that special assessment are only a backdoor method of increasing fees which the property owners do not appreciate. The property owners can get things done when they exercise their voting rights.

What is the board doing now? Now, they think that they should sell off all the assets. This includes the following: Cabins, RV Park, restaurant, swimming pool, bathhouse, bunk house, deer locker, ranch headquarters, airplane landing strip, deer locker, water wells, water storage tanks, stables, maintenance area buildings and all road maintenance equipment.

In order to dispose of all these assets, the board wants you, the property owners to give them permission to do this. They want you to vote for a bylaw change that would permit you to give a board member (secretary) your proxy. He then would vote your proxy for what he wants to do with all the assets of the corporation.

The way the board has worded this resolution, is that you cannot give your proxy to the person you chose to represent you. You can defeat this effort to steal your proxy rights, by voting NO to the board resolution.

We should not give our proxy vote to any board member when they will not even tell the property owners what board secretary(Tom Durham) is going to vote for and what will the board do with the money that is obtained from selling all the property that POATRI owns. Are they going to sell everything to some of their special interest buddies?

Also the board is greatly reducing the expenses of the ranch, but no consideration has been given to reducing the maintenance fees of Terlingua ranch. Also the board has given no consideration to a fairer fee than the current flat fee which only benefits special interests: large land owners, speculators, real estate people, mining and oil exploration companies. As these special interests add tracts to their holdings, decreased revenue to POATRI is occurring.

So far all the board has stated, is that they intend to lease, sale, or exchange all the assets of POATRI. I certainly do not think that the road maintenance equipment and ranch office should be sold. If you sell off the road maintenance equipment, little will be obtained from the sale of second hand equipment which is paid for. The road grading companies in Brewster County and elsewhere would have the board over a barrel, unless the board has a fallback position.

Also what is the logic in selling the ranch office if another building must be built to replace it? How much will the new office building cost?

Should the board be trusted to protect the property owner’s interest? You be the judge.
The board has:
• Denied 303 property owners the right to vote proxy after the board secretary had approved the registered proxy ballots. Tom Durham would not even tell the property owners why the board denied them their vote.
• Charged the property owners a special assessment even though the property owners had defeated special assessments by an election.
• Charged property owners interest rates in excess of Texas State maximum rates.
• Allowed the ranch manager to deny property owners access to ranch records in violation of state law.
• Allowed the ranch manager to engage in nepotism.
• Allowed the ranch manager and her staff to engage in ranch politics which is outlawed in every city, county, state and federal office in the United States of America.
• Increased maintenance fees by filing a false document in the Brewster County Courthouse. At present, there is a lawsuit filed in the Brewster County District Court by Julianne Braun over this issue.
• Increased maintenance fees whereby the small property owners saw their fees go up 300% and the large special interest property owners saw their maintenance fees actually go down.
• The board has recently given a road maintenance contract to a ranch resident without competitive bidding for the contract. Also Alida Lorio is now working for that firm. Special interests strike again.
• The board has been told by their own audit committee in an open board meeting that safeguards are needed to protect the financial interests of property owners. The board has done nothing in four months to protect the property owners from loopholes in Policies and Procedures, which do not require competitive bidding on large purchases.

In conclusion please vote no to the board resolution since you will not be represented by anyone at the table, when the board votes to dispose of all the Terlingua ranch assets.

Don Mahan
Member of TRRP and MTHC

Kathleen O’Keefe
Concerned Owner

17 thoughts on “Open Letter to Terlingua Ranch Property Owners

  1. Sam Baxley

    I have been visiting Study Butte and the Terlingua Ranch area for over 15 years. Since that time of first seeing the tent sites with pool and bathhouse, I have tried to return as often as possible. I have even been watching out for properties so that my family could move there some day. However, since the original lawsuit, I cannot get accurate numbers on property roles, financial reports, or any other important file that is stored in pdf format. The archives before this time are accessible, but not after.
    So my question is this, how does POATRI expect to attract new owners if they cannot display accurate information? I would like to move down there, but if POATRI keeps all of the information hidden, I would rather go to Study Butte.

    Just some thoughts that this shutting down the bath house and camping facilities has stopped me last fall and this fall from coming down there and visiting old friends and spending some money in the Big Bend area. If you close everything, you hurt not only residents but future visitors like me who went elsewhere these two fall seasons.


  2. Dan Snyder

    I am certainly concerned with all aspects of what is going on at the Ranch. First,my family and I have enjoyed the lodge and the facilities for many years and are saddened by the decline.I understand that many are afraid or are not wanting to pay fees, as am I- but an understanding has to come soon. I am willing to for the ammenities of the Lodge and the maintenance of the roads.This is why my family bought land out there in the first place and I would like to develop this land and leave it for my sons and grandchildren. We are afraid at this point that we have made a mistake and do not want to proceed any further.

    We have been coming out to Big Bend since 1968. The first time my family stayed at the Lodge we had a great time. We have met some great people. It seems pretty simple let the land go to the county and pay higher taxes to Brewster for the road maintenance. Reopen the Lodge as a business that is self supporting and also pays taxes to Brewster. This allows a growth in business and creates a cool family atmosphere for all to enjoy.

    I know this takes both sides bending over and taking some – get over it. I met this great guy over the years and he advised me that this Lodge and Ranch situation was like a Longhorn paddy in the middle of the desert. You can step in it or walk around it. You step in it – you find out what is going on- but it sure might stink – but then again it might not. Come to the table folks I would hate to lose a Desert Jewel like this – it is the last of the frontiers – Not Houston!

    Save The Ranch and the Lodge for the families, the kids… Hell our Future! D. B. Thanks for saving my a… with Big Blue. I will miss you man.

  3. David Zimmerman

    “the board has stated, is that they intend to lease, sale, or exchange all the assets of POATRI”

    I have problems with the transfer of the assets to a commercial buyer when they will be surrounded by private land owners. If a motel/B&B were to be put in, or a commercial air park, what would the guests do? Trespass on our land and roads to “enjoy” Terlingua? Of course they would rent ATVs!

    Logically all commercial and non-residential member related activity on the ranch should be prohibited. How about toll roads into the ranch so those who use the roads can ‘help’ a little extra in maintaining them.

  4. Donnie the Redneck

    Dude, the taxes are kilin us drunks and vagrants on SSI or just free loadin, plus my trailer’s got a big dead rat in it now, so stinky!

  5. TMO

    I agree with some of what has been said but in regards to the sale of the ranch to a commercial buyer, I believe that it was a mistake to not take advantage of what a well planned purchase could do for not only the value of the homeowners property but also; a well drawn up purchase plan could do wonders for the road conditions and bring yet more tourist to the area. I purchased my land several years ago and have visited on a regular basis. More development dollars would do wonders for the people who make Terlingua their permanent home and that in turn would benefit us all. I intend to build an Adobe residence in the near future but will wait to see if the property owners decide on truly investing in the future of the ranch. I understand the benefits that solitude offers some of the residents of the ranch but if we were to combine our heads and come up with a development proposal that would equally benefit us and a commercial developer, I believe that it would be a win/win situation. This is not meant to upset anyone, just a personal observation.

  6. joe stumpf

    Another shame………I’ve found many large developments all over the country,own land in one,all were going to be great,.clubhouses,etc…most all of them made the same simple set way to collect money per lot for services,..boards, or committies of well ,or not well, intended motives to run the place,some on pay, some volunteer, most really powerless to really DO anything. soon, most services get cut, people sell out, some smaall core group stays, but can never get money to do anything. lets say a good commercial venue came in, like a KOA.they might run it better and more professionally, and have some market backing.this could be good. stay open minded, life IS what is made of it.A lot of 5 acres should pay “X” a lot of 10 acres,”2X”,etc or “X” for so many feet of road maintained,plus equal divided costs of pool, lodge,emergency services,fair should be fair. It does keep people like myself decide NOT to invest in another dream that wont pan out…..joe

  7. sassy sue

    I know that those who own multiple lots will not agree with me but why do they pay the same fee as I do? So you own 40 acres in a single plot, takes a single road to get to it, pay one fee. But how about if you own 8 plots of 5 acres each and they are all in different areas and take 8 different roads to get to them????? Why should you pay only a single fee the same as the other guy????? If ALL your property is off the same road, maybe just one fee but if you have multiples off of different roads you SHOULD pay more. But why sell the restaurant and/or lodge? If someone should buy them, it would be with the idea of making a profit and if they can, then so can we. Sounds like poor management to me. I want to retire there and I don’t want to be terrorized by NON-OWNERS the way I am here. Total strangers walk MY property and play in MY creek, turn their dogs loose to chase MY chickens and then get upset with me when I call it to their attention that THEY are intruding on private property. Please don’t make it the same there. ss

  8. Don Mahan

    Sassy Sue, you are absolutely correct, when you say that it is not right that multiple tract owners only have to pay a fee on one tract. Some of the big land owners own hundreds of tracts or over a thousand acres and pay the same fee that a person owning only 5 acres.

    This abomination was caused by property owners not watching what the POATRI board was doing. It was rammed down the property owners throats by a coalition of special interests which consisted of real estate people, land speculators, oil & gas interests, and exempt property owners. POATRI even lets exempt property owners who don’t pay maintenance fees, vote to increase the maintenance fees and to vote do away with acreage fees. Also exempt property owners can serve on the board of directors if elected. Also there is a big problem with nonexempt property owners (about 2,000) not paying maintenance fees.

    The board has made some half hearted efforts to collect more fees, but there are more people not paying fees than ever before. People do not want to be the last person paying POATRI maintenance fees or pay into a system that does not give fair value for the money received.

    The result of this abomination is the current fact that there are only 2,000 property owners paying fees out of 4,900 property owners. Hopefully at the next election the property owners will elect some board members that will enact a fair maintenance fee system. If the newly elected board in January of 2011 does not try to correct this abomination of unfair fees, I will support a dues strike by all 2,000 paying property owners. The special interests can not force a man to pay fees that are unjust.

    The 2,000 paying property owners will not go on supporting all 4,900 property owners.

    Don Mahan

  9. debra

    To all, I like many others bought my property 20 yrs ago with plans of fun and retirement.Since I bought it I have watched my plans evaporate.Who wants to go to a place where you don’t know from day to day what will be there or what you’ll be paying for.Now basically I think many of us are trapped with a big patch of desert that is’nt worth what we payed for it.If you walk away from it then what happens?Bad credit etc,Were all hog tied and roped with this land on our backs,how sad!

  10. william potter

    I backed out buying land in terlingua ranch, because of the back east attiude, i want land i’ll be free on.

    why would i move to west texas if i have to put up with back east condo rules and reg’s.

    keep the west open and free. this is the texas way.

  11. Mula Oso

    I have been coming and investing in the Big Bend area for 40 years and property that was selling for $30.00 to $50.00 per acre then is now selling for $150.00 to $350.00, some is selling for much more.

    Those that have bought land in this area have seen the value of their property increase considerable in the last five years, this was caused by the influx of people wanting to own and enjoy this beautiful area. Property tax’s here are low and the ranch fees are reasonable compared to other area I invest in.

  12. Donald Mahan

    Mula Osa, are you aware of what percentage of property owners actually pay maintenance fees. Only 2,300 property owners out of 4,900 property owners actually pay any fees! That is only 47 % of the owners pay any fees at all. However don’t take my word for the number paying. Contact the ranch office and obtain the information first hand. Under Texas State law the ranch office must furnish owners access to all financial information. Also many large land owners do not pay any maintenance fees on hundreds of tracts.
    Check it out. don’t be the last property owner paying.Also there are 1,132 tract of terlingua property which are exempt from all fees.

    The maintenance fee system is broken and needs to be fixed.

    Don Mahan

  13. Robin Frazier

    Lets hear some ideas on how to fix the problem. First of all, only about 55% of the 2000 owners are paying their yearly fees. Some of that is a percentage of owners that can’t be found to bill – they have abandoned their land and perhaps don’t even know they own it any longer. The forclosure process is time consuming and expensive. The rest is people who withhold there fees and let the other 45% of the 200 pay it all. So who has the loudest cry, the 45% of the 2000 non-exempt owners who get to vote on the issues. We get to make the rules, it the law. Pay your due and you get to vote. Otherwise your voice will continue to go unheard.

    In conclusion, I would rather pay the fee and have the roads accessable, than to not pay the fees and not be able to get to my land. Even if it means someone else get to enjoy what I have payed for.

    It’s not a perfect world we live in, you can ether be a part of the problem, or a part of the solution.

    Lets make life at terlingua better.

  14. Chris Johnson

    It is time to hold the board accountable with the complete financials and to vote a change to the”Tax Exempt”
    Status . Everybody pays ! Period ! And NO the last thing we need is a commercial operation of the Lodge , airport
    or anything else. It destroys the whole reason we all came out there. Funny thing is I got a letter today from some
    lawyer in Dallas wanting to buy one of my five acre lots ? Yea no thanks
    Let us know when the next Board meeting is !