Harris County Approves Interlocal Agreement with City Concerning Woodridge Village

Today, Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Houston concerning the purchase of Woodridge Village from Perry Homes. On December 9, the City of Houston approved the same interlocal agreement. Today’s approval by the County brings both sides closer to a deal. But several details still remain to be worked out before closing the sale.

Remaining Details to Work Out Before Closing

Approval by both the City and County does NOT mean the purchase is automatically a done deal. Multiple surveys and appraisals must still be completed.

Any real-estate purchase is complicated, but this one is especially so because it involves three parties. Two of them want to split up the property and use it in different ways. They also want to pay for it in different ways.

  • As part of the deal, the City wants to purchase 77 acres out of the total 268 acres for itself to use as a wastewater treatment facility. The City wants to pay cash for that.
  • The remainder of the property, 191 acres, will be jointly owned, developed, operated and maintained by the City and Flood Control.
  • Flood Control’s agreement with the City says that the City will pay for its half of jointly owned acreage by donating other property that Flood Control can use to reduce the cost of other mitigation projects. 

The City and County must now get surveys and appraisals of all assets involved and agree on how to transfer them before closing. The clock is ticking.

The County’s separate purchase agreement with Figure Four gives the County until approximately March 1 to close the deal.

At Stake: Future of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest

Woodridge twice contributed to flooding Elm Grove Village in Kingwood last year. The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) hopes to build a regional flood detention facility there that would reduce flooding in Kingwood and along the San Jacinto East Fork.

Car submerged during Imelda at the end of Village Springs adjacent to Woodridge. Note the sediment laden water from the development. Photo courtesy of Allyssa Harris.

While Perry has completed detention ponds on the Woodridge site that were not present at the time of the flooding, the volume of detention still falls approximately 40% short of what Perry needs to meet Atlas 14 rainfall requirements.

How the Debate Went

County Judge Lina Hidalgo kicked off the discussion by stating she favored the proposal. Among her reasons:

  • Flood reduction in the Kingwood Area
  • Land that the County would get for other flood mitigation projects, especially along Halls and Greens Bayous.
  • Updating of the City’s drainage regulations to meet Atlas 14 requirements, even in the City’s ETJ

Russ Poppe, executive director of HCFCD noted that Perry had sunk $24 million into buying and clearing the property, and excavating detention ponds on it. He also said the property appraised at $19 million and that the County’s share of acquisition would be $5 million.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said that he initially had “grave concerns” about the acquisition but that Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s work had allayed them.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis raised concerns about the County getting stuck with the land if the City backed out of the deal.

But Robert Soard of the County Attorney’s office reassured him that if the City did not deliver, the deal was off BEFORE the County had to write a check.

Russ Poppe reassured everyone that when all conditions of the interlocal agreement were met, the commissioners would get a chance to approve the money before the deal was final.

In the end, the four commissioners and Judge Hidalgo all voted FOR the interlocal agreement. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle thanked them all on behalf of 600 flood victims.

Video of the debate has not yet been posted.

Posted by Bob Rehak on December 15, 2020

1204 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 453 since Imelda