Harris County Commissioners to Consider Purchase of Woodridge Village Again in Tuesday Meeting

Harris County published the agenda for next Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting. Once again, the purchase of Woodridge Village is on the agenda. The Perry Homes property contributed to flooding in Elm Grove Village twice last year, after the developer clear cut the land but did not yet install detention. Now, even with detention installed, the amount will likely be insufficient to forestall future floods because the engineers calculated the volume needed based on pre-Atlas 14 rainfall estimates. The new Atlas-14 estimates are about 40% higher than the old ones.

Since the 2019 floods, both the City and anxious Elm Grove residents have been urging the county to purchase the property and turn it into a regional floodwater detention facility to help protect homes in the Taylor Gully Watershed.

Commissioners first considered the purchase in April. When they could not reach agreement then, the issue resurfaced in several other meetings, but Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis kept heaping new conditions on the deal. First he wanted the City of Houston to pay for half the purchase price. Then, half the construction cost of building additional detention. The the City also had to adopt Atlas 14. And the City had to upgrade multiple development regulations to become consistent with County regs. And the City couldn’t just promise to do those things in an interlocal agreement. Future tense. They had to actually do them. Present tense.

Agenda Item 1T Under County Engineer

Item 1T Reads:

Recommendation that the court find a public necessity exists for the Flood Control District to purchase Tracts G503-06-00-01-001.0 and G503-06-00-01-002.0 in Montgomery County from Figure Four Partners, Ltd., in the amount of $14,019,316 plus closing costs for the Woodridge Village stormwater detention basin, and that the Real Property Division Manager or Assistant Division Manager be authorized to sign any agreements or closing documents associated with this transaction.

Documentation attached to the agenda item mentions the previous conditions put on the sale, but also focuses on “public necessity.” Declaring a property a public necessity is necessary before the county could purchase it. Even if commissioners approve this agenda item, they would need to revisit the issue to ensure the City has complied with all conditions the commissioners previously imposed on the sale.

The letter from the County Engineer to commissioners also proposes an inter-local agreement, which Commissioner Ellis previously objected to.

Status of Perry Detention Ponds

Excavation of all five detention ponds on the Perry site is complete, although some finish word remains on N3. Contractors finished S1 and S2 earlier this year. Since then, they have also virtually completed N1, N2 and N3. All pictures below were taken within the last two weeks.

N1 in the northwest corner of Woodridge.
N2 in the middle part of the western perimeter.
N3 along the eastern border of the site.

Together, these three ponds comprise 77% of the total acre/feet of detention on the site.

The newly excavated increase of capacity will help protect Elm Grove residents in rainfalls up to 12.17 inches. But complying with the new Atlas-14 regulations would require protection from a 17.3 inch rain in 24 hours. That’s about 40% more. Hence the need to purchase the property before it is developed into homesites.

TD 14 could test LJA’s design of the ponds when the tropical system makes landfall next Tuesday.

Latest Update on Tropics

At 7 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center issued updates on the two tropical systems that threaten the northern Gulf. Both could affect the Texas/Louisiana area on Tuesday. That should be around the exact time commissioners are scheduled to meet virtually. I’m assuming the meeting could be postponed if the storm turns into an emergency.

I’ve heard rainfall estimates ranging from 3 to 18 inches for the storm(s). Here’s what the storms are currently doing according to the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Depression 14 is currently dumping three to six inches of rain in the eastern portions of the Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Yucatan, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches.

Tropical Storm Laura is also expected to dump three to six inches of rain in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, with isolated totals up to eight inches.

NHC predicts both storms will intensify into hurricanes in coming days.

Only this morning, the cone was centered on Mississippi and Alabama.
Tropical-storm-force winds currently extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km) from the center, but the storm is projected to intensify into a hurricane before making landfall.

If these two storms merge, things could get interesting. Compared to the last two days, the cone of uncertainty for TS Laura keeps shifting to the west. And its wind field now includes the Houston Area.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/21/2020

1088 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.