Developer Seeks City Approval to Expand Commons of Lake Houston into Floodplain – Without Detention Ponds
Clarification: General plans, as described below, are primarily about street layouts. However, many people have been trying to raise awareness at the Planning Commission that street patterns are affected to a significant degree by the volume and and layout of drainage and detention features. And, of course with Atlas 14 that is more true than ever. Danny Signorelli, CEO of the Signorelli Companies, took issue with this post. I offered him an opportunity to print a rebuttal verbatim. He refused the offer.
Signorelli Companies have filed a general plan with City of Houston Planning Commission for a new development on the San Jacinto East Fork. It’s called “Crossing at the Commons of Lake Houston.”
Second Time Around for Developer
According to residents in other parts of the Commons, Signorelli tried to develop this property before and reportedly wanted to add 4-6 feet of fill to the floodplain. It’s not yet clear what they have in mind for this iteration of the project. However, comparing the general plan to FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer shows that parts of the development are still in the flood plain. (See below.)
No Detention Ponds Shown on Plans
The general plan filed with the planning commission also shows that the developer shows no plans for detention ponds on the property. A best practice to reduce flooding is to “retain your rain.”
Here are satellite and close-up views of where the new subdivision would be relative to the the surrounding area and existing parts of the development.
Parts of the proposed development will be in the floodplain. And those floodplains will soon expand to include even more homes. See the two dotted lines below.
Ironically, just last night, the City of Houston and its partners (Harris County Flood Control, Montgomery County and the SJRA) presented a draft of the findings of the San Jacinto River Master Drainage Plan. In it, they recommended avoiding flood plain development to keep people out of harm’s way. See slide below from their presentation.
The presenter also discussed how the floodplains were expanding due to revisions of flood maps based on new hydraulic and hydrologic modeling not yet been shared with FEMA.
The 100-year flood plain in many areas will like expand well into the 500. And the 500-year flood plain will likely expand into areas previously not shown in ANY floodplain.San Jacinto River Master Drainage Plan Draft Report 8/13/2020
Thus, the number of homes affected by floods could greatly expand beyond the number shown above.
Drainage in Commons Already a Problem
Plans also show that homes will be built very close to a drainage easement. Yet existing ditches in the Commons are eroding badly due to lack of maintenance. Below is a picture of one taken in January last year. Residents say the trees are still there and the erosion became much worse during floods in May and Imelda.
Less Than One Fourth of Property Now Under Consideration
The tract is 332 acres, but only 75.3 is proposed for development at this time. It is entirely located within the incorporated limits of the City of Houston. The entire tract is adjacent to COH flooding easements for Lake Houston.
How to Voice Concerns, If You Have Them
Here’s how you can voice concerns, if you have them. The City Planning Commission will hold virtual meetings until further notice. So it’s very easy to make public comments. You can sign up to speak by going to the Planning Commission Home Page.
The next Planning Commission meeting is Thursday, August 20, 2020. If you’d like to speak, you must sign up at least 24 hours before the meeting.
Use the online speaker form at https://www.tfaforms.com/4816241 or submit comments on an item via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speakers have only TWO MINUTES. Key points to consider:
- Floodplain will officially be expanding soon.
- Some of these homes are already in it.
- Many more soon will be.
- That could require fill.
- And fill will make flooding worse for other homes near the river on both sides.
- No detention ponds or drainage plans are shown.
- The Planning Commission should consider these things.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/14/2020
1081 Days since Hurricane Harvey
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.