Residents left with dry lawns after HOA designates funds elsewhere

New Mexico

Residents in one Rio Rancho neighborhood are not happy with the way their yards look, and they blame the homeowners association.

Residents say their front yards went from polished to dried up in just a few months, all because the homeowners’ association stopped watering, and residents are not satisfied with their explanation.

Dead shrubs, dead grass, dead trees. Residents in the North Hills neighborhood in Rio Rancho are fed up with seeing dying landscape from house to house.

Karl Ludemann says in his 15 years of living in North Hills, this is the worst he’s seen it.

“The whole neighborhood, every house,” said Luedemann. “You can go anywhere in this area and you’ll see this kind of grass.”

He pays nearly $40 a month to the homeowners’ association. Almost half of that money is supposed to pay to water the landscape, but the watering stopped.

“All of a sudden it was like we’re not gonna water, we’re not gonna do anything for you basically,” Luedemann said.

“With the increase in the water bills and all of the irrigation repairs we were looking at, it was determined that we would have to either raise dues to continue maintaining the water for the community, or we were going to have to find a different solution,” community manager Melanie McLaughlin said.

The North Hills Homeowners’ Association says the bottom line is they can’t afford to water the front yards for all 1,500 residents with their budget. 

So, they stopped watering the lawns, and put those funds towards xeriscaping the neighborhood. 

“The board would pay for xeriscaping, which would include the rock and installation for those who have grass,” McLaughlin said.

However, residents like Luedemann say they’re only being given one option, take it or leave it. He wants to leave it.

“I understand that they want to do xeriscaping, but to force [us] into it is something that I really don’t want,” Luedemann said.

It’s unclear how long it will take to get all the homes xeriscaped. Residents say they are concerned for holidays like Fourth of July, when sparks fly with such dry lawns.

The HOA says more than 400 homeowners have signed up for the xeriscaping plan. 

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