Today, almost two years after Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village development first contributed to flooding Elm Grove Village and North Kingwood Forest in Kingwood, Harris County and the City of Houston finally purchased the aborted, ill-conceived development.
Current plans are for the City of Houston to build a wastewater treatment plant on the northern portion. Harris County Flood Control District will use the southern portion to build a regional floodwater detention center. The latter should alleviate flooding problems adjacent to the development as well as other areas farther downstream on Taylor Gully.
Exact Plans for Additional Detention Capacity Not Yet Developed
It is not immediately clear how much additional detention pond capacity HCFCD will build on the property or where. However, on February 9, 2021, HCFCD hired an engineering company to develop preliminary plans.
A press release issued today by Harris County Flood Control said, “The next step is to undergo an engineering analysis to maximize stormwater detention volume, quantify the benefit to the community and determine project cost and funding. Additional community engagement will be scheduled to gather input from area residents on the proposed project and to present project alternatives.”
History of Flooding
The flooding problems began on May 7, 2019 when approximately 200 homes flooded from sheet flow coming from the development. Two to three times that number of homes flooded on September 19th, 2019 during Imelda.
Contributing factors included:
- Rushing to get the project permitted before Atlas-14 rainfall statistics went into effect
- Clearcutting of forests
- Filling wetlands
- Sampling soils at non-representative locations
- Filling natural drainage
- Elimination of a berm that channeled floodwater away from homes
- Failure to build adequate detention-pond capacity
- Failure to follow best management practices and construction plans
- Pretending a flood plain did not exist
Eventually, Perry Homes, its subsidiaries and contractors managed to build five detention ponds, but their capacity still fell about 40% short of Atlas-14 requirements. Thus, the development would have posed a risk forever after had Harris County and the City not stepped in.
Photos of Property Just Purchased
Here are pictures of Woodridge Village taken on 3/3/2021 from several different angles.
More About the Sale
All of the 267.35 cleared acres fall within Montgomery County. But a provision within the 2018 Flood Bond allows Harris County to purchase land in other counties if it helps control flooding in Harris.
The Harris County Flood Control District and the City of Houston jointly purchased the property for approximately $14 million. The Flood Control District is using funds from the 2018 Bond Program (Bond ID Z-02) to acquire the land. The City of Houston contributed approximately $3.8 million dollars for the use and ownership of 73 acres on the northern part of the property.
Reaction from Government Officials
“This is a great example of government doing what government is supposed to do – listening to the people who live in those neighborhoods and working to protect them from future flooding,” said Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, who pushed this project through against opposition in Commissioner’s Court.
Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin also worked tirelessly to make the deal happen. It involved trading City land to the County for flood control projects and getting the City to adopt the County’s flood control standards. “This purchase is integral for investment in the future of the Kingwood area as well as many homes along the county line. Collaboration like this is essential in providing a sense of security to residents who have endured so much uncertainty these last few years,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin.
Congressman Dan Crenshaw lauded Cagle, Martin, and community support. “This is an important step forward in building a more resilient community,” he said.
State Senator Brandon Creighton said, “This type of partnership and investment will make Kingwood and surrounding areas better protected.”
State Representative Dan Huberty complimented the City and County for working together. “This is a great example of different areas of government working together to achieve the best outcomes for local residents,” he said.
Additional detention ponds are not yet built, but this is a huge step forward. A big “thank you” and “whew” to all involved.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/3/2021
1283 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 532 since Imelda