LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — The Crystal Falls Homeowners Association in Leander has put the brakes on a controversial plan to stop speeders, for now.
“I know we had good intentions, but we don’t want to cause problems for our community,” said HOA board member Eddie Green. “We don’t want this to be the number one thing we’re known for.”
Thursday’s board meeting, which was only able to be accessed by dialing into a phone line, saw the resignation of one HOA board member, King Campbell, who cited personal attacks against him on social media. In a vote of 3-2, the board decided to use its portable video camera and radar system, called a “Traffic Hawk,” to monitor speed on private roads for 90 days. During that time, no fines will be issued, as previously planned.
During the 90-day trial period, the board will look at what percent of speeders are HOA residents, how many are “repeat offenders” and what percent of cars are going faster than 10 mph over the speed limit. After that, the board will decide whether more data is needed, whether fines should be implemented or whether the speed monitoring device should be scrapped altogether.
This follows a KXAN investigation into the board’s plan to fine residents up to $334 who are caught speeding. On its website, the Traffic Hawk is marketed to communities as a way to “generate additional revenue to your community.“
Board attorney Connie Heyer previously told KXAN any fines collected will go back to the community for events and projects.
“We’re in left field,” Green said about the portable video camera and radar system that can be used to catch, track down and fine speeders.
Green said he was unaware of other HOAs taking a similar measure against speeders. He questioned whether it was worth the “negative publicity,” citing KXAN’s reporting, and asked his fellow board members to consider “other ways to do traffic calming that are less controversial than this.”
Green, who was the most outspoken against the plan, said this issue has generated more feedback than any other issue and believes the community “does not like this.” In response, Heyer said the blowback is coming from an “extreme minority” of the more than 3,000 homeowners — the majority of whom, not speaking out, are either “fine” with it, “support” it, or are “indifferent” to the plan to fine speeders, she said.
No survey has been taken to get resident opinion of the speed trap, and several homeowners complained to KXAN they didn’t find out about the plan until last month when the board notified residents the Traffic Hawk would be installed this week.
Heyer, who did not respond to text messages and emails Thursday, told the board the decision to use the Traffic Hawk was “well thought out and researched.” The attorney told the board if they voted against the Traffic Haw, they could be held “liable” in the future in the event anyone is hurt in a speeding accident, since members are aware there is a problem with speeding in the community.
Eight flashing traffic radars are currently used in the community, Heyer said. Unlike the Traffic Hawk, they do not take and save video of speeders’ license plates.
Those radars clocked one speeder going 90 mph in the 25-40 mph community, one board member said. Speaking in favor of the device, a member said he was “appalled” residents would want people to continue to speed “without any consequences.”
Because the HOA meeting was listen-in only by phone, it was difficult to identify each speaker.
The Traffic Hawk is set to be activated Saturday.
“It is all about safety,” a member said.