Here’s an update to last week’s watchlist. It includes seven Lake Houston Area developments – four from last week and three new.
Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village
On April 28, 2020, Harris County Commissioners approved the purchase of Woodridge Village from Perry Homes with two conditions: 1) that the City of Houston would defray half the cost by contributing $7mm worth of land that HCFCD needed for other flood control costs, 2) that the City would adopt new Atlas-14 rainfall statistics.
The next day, Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin discussed the deal on a Facebook live “virtual lunch” with the Lake Houston Area Chamber. At about 26:20 into the video, he said that the stipulations had already been agreed to. He said the City had already identified 11 pieces of property, 6 of which were presented to the County during its consideration of the deal in executive session the previous night. He also said the City would divert water from Taylor Gully to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and build a barrier between Elm Grove and Woodridge, while the county built a regional detention facility.
Perry contractors went back to work the next day before Martin spoke. They continued working all week. They worked near Mace in Porter, on N2 (the large detention pond in the middle of the western border), and N3 (another detention pond on the eastern border).
A reliable source who needs to remain anonymous told me that the work was at the request of Perry’s lawyers. The source said that Perry and its contractors were simply complying with their contract.
This week marks the anniversary of the first storm (May 7th) that landed Perry in hot water. And forecasters predict an above-average hurricane season, which starts in four weeks. The lawyers may have had that on their minds, too. As they say in legal circles, “The third time is the pen.” Woodridge contributed to flooding Elm Grove twice last year, in May and September.
Romerica’s “Orchard Seeded Ranches”
This is the 331-acre project formerly known as the Heron’s Kingwood. It wound around the Barrington and River Grove Park. Romerica is now trying to develop the same land under a different name, “Orchard Seeded Ranches.”
However, on Thursday, 4/30/2020, the Houston Planning Commission deferred approval of the developer’s General Plan.
The Commission then asked the developer to consult with the City Engineer; the Planning and Development Department; and Harris County Flood Control before bringing further requests back to the Commission.
That should send a strong signal to the developer that rough waters lie ahead. Any proposal will likely be debated publicly when/if the developer returns.
The development is still listed in CoH’s PlatTracker. So we will continue to watch this one.
Holley’s Kingwood Cove Golf Course Redevelopment
A review of the City of Houston’s PlatTracker Plus Map indicates that Holley has not yet applied for any permits on the golf course in Forest Cove. City of Houston confirmed that via a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act).
A review of the Harris County Appraisal District website indicates a limited liability company in Pittsburgh, PA, actually owns the golf course.
It’s not unusual for developers to use other people’s money. I shall continue to watch this. Holley says his engineer is reworking plans based on input from people surrounding the course.
Ryko Property Near Confluence of Spring Creek and West Fork
This property is in Montgomery County and the City of Houston’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction. The Montgomery County Engineers office says the company has not yet filed any plans that have been approved. The City of Houston PlatTracker Plus Map also shows the owner has not yet filed any applications.
New Caney ISD High School #3
The New Caney Independed School District plans to build a third high school south of the HCA Kingwood Medical Center and behind the car dealerships that front US59. I don’t know much more about this except that they plan to extend roads into the area that is now forest. High schools usually have large parking lots. And that means rapid drainage. It is unclear at this time whether MoCo will require detention ponds.
This high-density development along the West Fork San Jacinto River in Montgomery County is now about one-third to one-half built. Construction continues.
The Colonies in Plum Grove
North of SH99 in Plum Grove and east of the East Fork in Liberty County, lies one of the largest developments in the Houston region without detention ponds.
In January of 2017, the Houston Chronicle wrote about how La Colonia was transforming Plum Grove. They interviewed local residents who lamented the loss of forests. ABC13 ran a story about the squalid living conditions. Yet the area continues to expand.
Formally known as Colony Ridge, some locals call it “The Colonies.” Colony Ridge bills itself as a “master-planned” community with six major subdivisions: Sante Fe, Camino Real, Grand San Jacinto, Rancho San Vincente, Montebello, and Bella Vista. Together they comprise 30,478 lots on approximately 10,000 acres at present. And they’re still growing!
Colony Ridge advertises itself as “an escape from the city, land on which to grow and build a home, no restrictions and easy credit.” Aerial photos reveal people scratching out hardscrabble lives on barren lots.
This is a blue collar neighborhood. The developer says his target market is poor Latino laborers. They see this as a step up from apartment living and a chance to own a part of the American dream.
But while flying over it, I did not see one detention pond.
As SH99, the Grand Parkway, pushes east from 59, this area will boom. Without better drainage regulations, Liberty County and Plum Grove will heap their drainage problems on those downstream.
The good news is that Liberty County has joined with seven other counties to form a Southeast Texas Drainage District. The bad news is that Harris County is not one of the seven.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/3/2020
978 Days after Hurricane Harvey