Stark Contrast Between High-Rise Website Disclaimer and Army Corps Permit Application Form

Two weeks ago, the high-rise Kingwood Marina developers designated John Manlove Marketing and Communications as their official point of contact re: all permit application matters. Then last week, Manlove launched a new website that made promises, which seemingly contradicted technical data in the permit application form.

At the bottom of the one-page website, Manlove posted a disclaimer that said:

But the Corps’ permit application says:

That may be hard to read on a smart phone, so let me retype the 85 word sentence.

“18 U.S.C. Section 1001 provides that: Whoever, in any manner within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up any trick, scheme, or disguises a material fact or makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing same to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or entry, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years or both.”

Simplifying that statement, one could say, “”Whoever, in any manner…uses any false writing…knowing same to contain fictitious statements…shall be fined not more than $10K or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.”

Shifting Stories

Against this backdrop, consider the number of inconsistencies between the original Army Corps’ public notice and Manlove’s new promotional website for the developer. Differences include:

  • The name of the applicant
  • The size of the development
  • The number of boats that the marina can hold
  • The amount of land being preserved for nature
  • Even the amount of fill being added to the floodplain, which is the main issue as far as the Corps is concerned.
Corps’ Public Notice states flood plain will be elevated from 45 to 57 feet, but developer’s web site now says more than 62 feet. This represents a loss of almost 2000 acre-feet of flood plain storage, but no compensating adjustments are disclosed.

In addition, the developers claim they have the right to develop high rises, but have shown no waiver of the deed restrictions that seemingly limit development to single-family residential.

All of these issues raise serious questions which the developer has refused to to address publicly. However, the Manlove-created web site does claim that they will meet AFTER the comment period is over. Sorry! That’s too late.

Inconsistencies in Second, Separate Permit, Too

The developer’s engineering contractor, CivilTech, applied for a permit in June, 2018, to begin excavating the marina. The company told the County that all excavated material would be hauled off site and sold. Based on these assurances, Harris County Flood Control had no objection and the City approved the excavation permit.

FOIA request of HCFCD records shows that excavation permit application was based on all material being hauled off site. However, the Corps Public Notice says it will be used to raise buildings.

Now, however, the Army Corps in its public notice says the fill will STAY on site to raise the elevation of buildings. Because the marina will immediately fill back up with river water, the fill dirt should reduce floodplain capacity.

Meanwhile, on February 12, 2019, Manlove published a statement in its promotional website for the developers stating that, “Both the City and County have approved construction and permits have been issued, they have determined that the community will not have an adverse effect on surrounding communities.” (sic)

Copy published by Manlove for developers on 2/12/2019.

Excavation, NOT Construction

To set the record straight, both the City and County deny that a) CONSTRUCTION permits have been issued, and b) that they have made any determination as to whether the high-rise development will adversely affect surrounding communities.

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) did not object to an EXCAVATION permit based on assurances from the developer’s engineering contractor that the excavated material would be hauled away. The City evidently approved the EXCAVATION permit based on the fact that HCFCD did not object.

Luckily, excavation has not yet begun. Hopefully, this inconsistency will be addressed by the developers, their engineering firm and permitting agencies before excavation begins.

I’m not saying these inconsistencies are intentional. Things change. Perhaps CivilTech was planning to reapply for another permit that showed onsite storage of the excavated material. Perhaps the ad agency was unaware of the standard of disclosure that being the official point of contact demands.

Only One Thing is Certain

Only one thing is certain: Kingwood residents affected by this project deserve answers.

For starters, I’d like to know how a 50-story hotel and other commercial high rises can be built on property that’s apparently deed restricted to single-family residential. And then I’d like to know who’s behind this project and where their money comes from.

  • Dun & Bradstreet lists no assets for Romerica Investments, LLC (the permit applicant) and thinks the company is out of business,
  • After I pointed that out, Manlove then changed the copy in their promotional website to suggest that “Romerica Group” would be responsible.
  • But no entity by that name is registered with the Texas Secretary of State,
  • So Manlove again changed the copy. It now just says, “Romerica” will head the project.
  • News Flash: “Romerica” by itself isn’t registered with the Texas Secretary of State either.

Stop The Nonsense

It’s time for the Army Corps of Engineers to put a stop to this nonsense. The Corps should deny this permit.

As always, these are my opinions on matters of public policy. They are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Posted by Bob Rehak on Feb. 19, 2019

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