In April 2019, Ron Holley, a major Kingwood developer, bought the Kingwood Cove Golf Course. Neighbors immediately started asking questions about how his plans could affect potential flooding. Forty-one Forest Cove residents flooded during Imelda last year. On 4/12 this year, Holley shared his vision for the property in a KPRC radio interview.
Description of Development
The developer says he purchased 110 acres. He will reserve 20 acres of that (18%) for detention. The remaining 90 acres, he says, are all above the 500-year floodplain. The lowest part of the property sits at 50 feet above sea level. That’s 7.5 feet above the average level of Lake Houston. However, he says the highest properties, those closest to Kingwood Drive, are at 90 feet.
Possible names for the development include Kingwood Heights and Holley Heights, to help offset the fear of flooding and communicate the location above the current 500 year floodplain.
Holley says he conducted environmental, wetland, and tree surveys on the property in the last year. He wants to preserve as many trees as possible. Lot sizes will range from half- to 1+ acres.
USGS Shows No Wetlands Issues for Property
FEMA Shows Narrow 500-year Flood Zone
In the map below, the cross-hatched area represents the floodway. The aqua colored area represents the 100-year floodplain and the brown area the 500-year floodplain. The narrowness of the 500-year band indicates a steep slope. In fact, the land rises sharply from a low river terrace to a higher terrace in that transition zone.
Timing of Development
Holley says people could start building homes on the old course early next year. However, he did not say whether the property was permitted yet.
Other local subdivisions developed by Holley include: Kings Harbor, Deer Ridge Estates, Kings Lake Estates, and Summer Lake Ranch. Holley has developed land in the Kingwood area since 1992.
Is Drainage Sufficient?
Mr. Holley did say that 41 Forest Cove homeowners flooded during Imelda last year. Based on their concerns, he said that he is increasing drainage. He declined to answer other questions until he gets “further along in the engineering.”
Many neighbors have expressed concerns about the loss of pervious cover to streets, driveways, rooftops, etc. If the land is going to be developed, low density makes the most sense. And one or two families per acre certainly is better than four to eight. We have seen many such higher-density developments upstream in Montgomery County. Take Northpark Woods, for instance. Many Montgomery County developments do not even require detention ponds.
This project resides both within the City of Houston and Harris County. I will continue to watch it as the engineering evolves.
Detention in Floodways Less Effective
About 4 acres of the 20 acres on the lower terrace sits in the floodway. One flood expert told me, “Generally, detention basins in the floodway aren’t as effective (compared to those in a floodplain) because they get full of water before they can be of much use during a flood event. A detention basin works where it can fill up and store water during a major flood event, basically an extension of the natural floodplain.”
Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/14/2020
959 Days since Hurricane Harvey