Sharpstown Civic Association Inc. v. Pickett

679 S.W.2d 956 (1984)

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Sharpstown Civic Association Inc. v. Pickett

Texas Supreme Court
679 S.W.2d 956 (1984)

Facts

A civic association and six resident lot owners in the Sharpstown Country Club Terrace residential subdivision (collectively, Sharpstown) (plaintiffs) sued Ronald Pickett (defendant), the owner of two lots with no discernable boundary, to enjoin him from using the lots as a commercial car wash in violation of lot restrictions limiting the lots to residential use only. Pickett bought his lots in November 1979. Before that, between 1969 and 1979, the lots were owned by Robert Hill, who moved a small, one-story wooden building onto one of the lots, built a circular driveway in front of the building, and connected water, sewage, and telephone services. Hill rented the space to a real estate business, an insurance salesman, and an attorney. At no time when Hill owned and rented the space were any objections made to the nonresidential use of the lot. When Pickett bought the lots in 1979, he used the building as an office for about five months before he erected a sign announcing the future use of the two lots as a commercial car wash. Sharpstown contacted Pickett, objecting to the use of the lots as a car wash, and when the parties could not agree, Sharpstown filed suit. At trial, the jury specifically found that (1) the first lot was used for nonresidential purposes, and the second lot was not; (2) the nonresidential use of the first lot began in the 1970s and continued until the suit was filed; (3) at least one of the plaintiffs knew of the nonresidential use of the first lot but not of the second lot back in 1970; (4) a person of reasonable prudence should have known the first lot was being used for a nonresidential purpose, starting in 1970; and (5) Sharpstown had waived the right to enforce the nonresidential-use restriction against the first lot, which had been used for such a purpose. The trial and appellate courts denied Sharpstown’s request for a permanent injunction, and Sharpstown appealed. Pickett, who was using the first lot as a used car lot, testified at trial that he was considering using the property for a strip shopping center and argued that any nonresidential use of either lot was sufficient to support every subsequent nonresidential use. Sharpstown argued that the small office building on the first lot was an insubstantial violation of the restriction, and the proposed car wash was a substantial violation to which Sharpstown had promptly objected.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wallace, J.)

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