Some Texas City property owners accuse city of making it hard to keep what belongs to them

With me and the other people they're just taking our property away," said Jamie Jaramillo said. "They're just taking everything away from us."

Jaramillo and other Texas City property owners admit their properties might not look that great from the outside.

But there's a lot of buildings around town that sorely need work.

The owners we interviewed say their properties are structurally sound and they have documentation from independent engineers to prove it.

"The city won't give you a permit in fact what the city will do is take away your certificate of occupancy which then makes it another violation," said attorney Valerie Jewett.


Harris Aldridge has owned HTS Lounge on Highway 1765 for 50 years. He says his first dealing ever with the Texas City Fire Marshal’s Office was in May of last year. The reason he says too many calls to police.
"Anytime something happens I call the police to keep the trouble down," said Aldridge. "I thought I was doing the right thing."

He says the city has cited his property as substandard.

"Came back the third week, he did no inspection and said you've got to much work to do you're not going to be able to do it, so I'm closing you down," Aldridge said.

Now, the business he owned for five decades is for sale. He says it's not financially feasible for him to do all the things the city ordered him to do to bring it up to code.

"I have over 20 properties and two apartments," said Prince Ella Green. "Never had an issue, never been cited for anything in this city."

The house owned by Green is on 6th Ave North. An area the city is revitalizing.

"This letter here says substandard and substandard means dilapidated, unsafe, unlivable," Green said. "We just paid the house off in March for $25,000. After that, they came after us."

Green has a letter from an engineering firm that states structurally her home is in overall good condition.

"They don't even give us a fair chance to even tell us what's wrong so we can fix our place up," said Green.

"When they give you a list of what needs to be done, it's generic," said Debbie Roberts. "It's all generic codes you don't know what they mean."

Roberts owns two properties the city says are too dangerous to occupy. One is also in the 6th Street area being revitalized.

Jewett says the city gives property owners a generic letter about the code violations.

"You figure it out and if you don't figure it out fast, we will have an abatement hearing and we will basically take away your property," she said.

"They labeled my buildings substandard," said Thomas Rhone.


Rhone's grandmother built the apartments back in the mid-60s. Now he's on the verge of losing the property. The city recently built a park across the street.

"My contractor to this day can not get a permit from the city of Texas City," Rhone said.

The property Jaramillo owns is right on 6th Street, which again the city is revitalizing.

He, Green, Roberts, and Rhone are now battling the city over their properties in court.

"I told them well here I'll just hand you the keys to the buildings and they're like, we don't take things," Jaramillo said. "I said well that's what I feel like you're doing."

"How many more people are they doing like this," Green said.