News and notes from The Woodlands Township.

Owner of massage business recants racism claims

According to two officials with The Woodlands Township Development Standards Committee, the owner of a home-based massage therapy business in the Village of Indian Springs has apologized and issued a statement recanting her false allegations of being subjected to racist abuse by several neighbors from an incident in 2017.

According to DSC Chairman Walter Lisiewski and also Hennie van Rensburg, the director of covenant administration for the township, the owner of the massage therapy business Central American Massage Parlor on Rushwing Circle in the Village of Indian Springs, Maria Mercedes Vargas appeared at the Dec. 11, 2019, meeting of the DSC with her son, Christopher Vargas, where both spoke in the public comment period of the meeting and both issued apologies and stated they had fabricated claims of racist language and abuse from neighbors in 2017.

Maria Mercedes Vargas has run the massage therapy business in her home for many years, but in 2017, residents on her street complained to the DSC — which has approval and oversight authority over home-based businesses within the township — about what they claimed was rampant traffic congestion, parking issues and other disturbances created by the business.

The neighbors, led by complainant Sean Dever, asked the DSC to shutter the business.

However, after several contentious DSC meetings in August and later September of 2017 where Maria Vargas and her son Christopher alleged racial harassment, claims that were vehemently denied by Dever and other neighbors, the DSC voted to allow the business to remain open.

Little is known about why the mother and son issued an apology and retracted their claims, but Lisiewski said that Dever had apparently pursued legal action against Vargas and her son following their false statements in 2017 alleging he had made racially offensive comments.

It was an unusual turn of events, Lisiewski added, and he said that the apologies and retractions from both mother and son were very emotional and stunned many at the meeting.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lisiewski added.

On Monday, Dec. 30, van Rensburg confirmed that the couple had issued apologies, but he said he did not know what prompted them to make the statements at the Dec. 11, 2019, DSC meeting where the mother and son retracted their false claims from years earlier.

Attempts to contact Maria Mercedes Vargas were unsuccessful and no record of the massage business was able to be located in multiple online searches.

Maria Vargas is still licensed to operate a massage therapy business by the State of Texas, with her license not expiring until September of 2021. Attempts to contact Dever were also unsuccessful, with messages to his email account returned and no answer to repeated telephone calls.

Township committee election filing run through Jan. 16

Although the main township Board of Directors election came and went in November, there are more than 100 lower-level positions currently up for election throughout The Woodlands, including for seats on various village association boards as well as the numerous residential design review committees, which is a junior-version of the township’s Development Standards Committee.

The filing period for candidates seeking one of the more than 100 openings began on Dec. 26 and continues through 5 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16. Candidate application forms can be obtained at the township offices, 2801 Technology Forest Blvd., The Woodlands, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Applicants must meet certain criteria to see seats on the various committees and village associations, including being at least 18 years old by the day of the election, which is Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, as well as certain requirements of residency and/or property ownership in the applicable entity or neighborhood seeking office.

For more information, contact the township offices at 281-210-3800 or visit the township website at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx-gov.

[email protected]