The Bayou Land Conservancy (BLC) has joined the ranks of those protesting the proposed high-rise development in Kingwood. The cutoff for submitting letters to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is March 1. Nine days remain.
The Bayou Land Conservancy letter runs 10 pages with another 12 pages of addenda. But don’t let the length deter you. The letter is both compelling and educational. For me, the education happened on two levels. First, I learned a tremendous amount of new information about an area I have lived in for 35 years. Second, I learned a lot about how to write a protest letter.
Meticulously detailed, it contains well documented references to violations or probable violations of numerous laws and regulations. It makes its points quietly without over- or understating. It also contains a graphic that telegraphs at a glance the danger of this development.
Among other things, the letter discusses insufficiencies in the developers’ documentation for:
- Avoidance and minimization, two factors the Corps looks at before requiring mitigation.
- Mitigation – The applicant has not provided enough documentation to determine whether mitigation was avoidable, and if not what types are required where to offset any unavoidable losses.
- Dangers to threatened or endangered species.
- Impact on streams and surrounding drainage
Bayou Land Conservancy also details several public interest factors relating to flood hazards:
- Flood Hazards, such as insufficient elevation and location in a floodplain that will likely soon be reclassified as a floodway.
- Floodplain Values – specifically that the cumulative impact on flood moderation, water quality, and living resources has not been considered.
- Shore Erosion and Accretion – “The West Fork San Jacinto River currently suffers from excessive introduction and dispersal of sediments, and this project fails to address this significant local water quality problem. The environmental impacts of increased erosion and accretion, include the following: loss of important or sensitive aquatic habitat, decrease in fishery resources, loss of recreation attributes, human health concerns, loss of wetlands, nutrient balance changes, circulation changes, increases in turbidity, and loss of submerged vegetation.”
- Water Quality – “…permit should be evaluated to determine the nature and degree of effect that the proposed discharge will have individually and cumulatively on water quality. Consideration should be given to water chemistry, salinity, clarity, color, odor, taste, dissolved gas levels, temperature, nutrients, and eutrophication. This portion of West Fork San Jacinto River is listed as impaired by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for not meeting pH standards. This segment is also listed for state concerns for nitrate and phosphorus based on screening levels.” Additionally BLC cites the location of the project near the major source of drinking water for the City of Houston.
- Aesthetics – The lack of consistency with surrounding forest and incompatibility with local architecture.
- Traffic – Concerns include both vehicular and air traffic. “This project proposes to add to the residential and commercial growth, without regard for traffic congestion.
Bayou Land Conservancy believes that the Public Notice lacks the information necessary to adequately consider the totality of impacts that will result from the proposed development. The environmental information provided in the Public Notice is substantially deficient, failing to meet regulations for permitting dredge and fill activities.
“BLC requests additional information and studies related to the issuance of a permit for this project be made publicly available and a public hearing…”
“The potential risks this project poses to the life, health, and safety of area residents, have not been evaluated. BLC believes the project is contrary to the public interests of protecting wetlands, floodplain functionality, water quality, and wildlife and fisheries habitat.”
For those wishing to send protest letters to additional agencies, such as US Fish & Wildlife, EPA, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Senators Cruz and Cornyn, and Congressman Crenshaw, the letter also includes addresses on page 10.
If you’re considering sending a letter, don’t wait. Time is running out. Remember, anyone can send a letter. You don’t need to be a registered voter. You just need to care.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/20/2019
540 Days since Hurricane Harvey