Higbie Ventures LP, a construction company headquartered at 3733 Westheimer, has started clearing more than 20 acres immediately north of Harris County Precinct 4’s new Edgewater Park at US59 and the San Jacinto West Fork for a recreational vehicle park that would hold 182 RVs. The land sits between the Union Pacific Railroad Tracks and Lakewood Cove just west of Laurel Springs Drive.
Goodbye Towering Pines, Hello Oleander
Landscaping plans indicate that the company will clear all the trees that buffer neighbors to the east from the noise of freight trains. Oleander would replace the towering pines. Oleander is pretty but poisonous. It’s toxic to humans and pets if even small amounts are ingested.
Neighbors worry about how a nearby RV park could impact their home values, safety and quiet neighborhood traffic patterns. They generate a lot of heavy vehicle traffic that streets weren’t designed for. And the RV owners sometimes also decide to become permanent residents.
Neighbors also fear that changes in elevation could flood them. Dirt excavated from a large detention pond will be used to build up part of the site. The detention pond, which will have a dry bottom will occupy the southern end of the site and intercept all stormwater draining toward the cypress ponds in Edgewater Park to the south. The site’s grading plan states that “Stormwater runoff shall not cross property line.”
This could disrupt replenishment cycles of the cypress ponds in Edgewater Park which will be one of the signature attractions of the park.
Moreover, even though part of the property sits in the floodplain, Harris County Flood Control says it was not given an opportunity to review the plans. And the floodplains shown on the plans correspond to a pre-Atlas 14 era with rainfall amounts roughly 28% lower than today’s.
The contractor did not post a drainage analysis for the project but seems to be complying with Harris County Flood Control District guidelines of .65 acre-feet of floodwater detention capacity per acre.
Neighbors Claim No Public Notice Given
It’s unclear how Higbie got permits without a public notice. But at a meeting of 150 Lakewood Cove residents last week, not one could remember receiving a notice about the RV Park development.
However, the City of Houston Permitting site shows eight permits issued to the developer for the RV Park.
Permits Seem to Apply Only to Sitework
The plan documents posted on the contractor’s website claim that ALL have received permits from the City of Houston, though they do not show permit stamps, only that they have been reviewed for compliance.
The permits above apply to site work only, not the construction of buildings on the site. These permits relate to site clearing, paving, sidewalks and utilities. However, there don’t appear to be any permits related to actual buildings shown on their plans.
Even though one of the permits shown in a database search is labeled “Building Pmt,” the actual permit says it is for “Structures Other than Buildings.” See below.
Planned Buildings Not Yet Shown on COH Permit Site
But the site clearly contains buildings. They include a recreation center, comfort stations, dog wash facility, shop, cart storage buildings, outdoor fire pits, restrooms, laundry, showers.
Another possible permitting issue: Permits allow 182 pads for RVs but the site plan calls for 226!
The City of Houston District E office has not responded to enquires about whether the site is fully permitted or why the plans do not show permit stamps by city engineers.
Drone Photos Show Extent of Clearing To Date
Drone photos show the contractor has already cleared a large area on the northern portion of the site and is working south. These show the extent of clearing as of 10/26/2021.
Park Plan Update
Dennis Johnston, Harris County Precinct 4 Parks Director was kind enough to supply these most recent plans for Edgewater Park. The RV park would be above the black line at the top of the frame below. This first image shows trails within and around the park as well as an alternate route to connect Hamblen Road with the bridge over US59 leading to the Sorters-McClellan bridge. The alternate route would provide a way for traffic to avoid blind turns onto 494.
More than 160 Lakewood Cove residents have already signed a petition protesting the RV park. But it’s not clear whether anything can be done at this point to affect the developer’s plan. Neither the developer, Laurel Springs RV, LLC nor contractor have responded to pleas for meetings with residents according to one community leader that I have talked to.
Accordingly, Lakewood Cove is circulating a petition on Change.org targeted at community leaders and elected officials, pleading for help.
This development raises many questions. I sincerely hope the developer choses to engage with the community to answer neighbor’s questions.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/28/2021 and updated 10/29/2021 to reflect a difference between the contractor and developer.
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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.