A week ago, I posted about two large parcels of land being cleared south and west of Splendora High School on FM2090 in Montgomery County. At the time, I thought they might be part of the same development. Since then, I have learned that two different companies own the parcels: Townsend Reserve Ltd. and Forestar USA. However, both used the same companies – Elevation Land Solutions and WGA – for engineering.
This post will focus primarily on Townsend Reserve. A previous post discussed Forestar’s property, Splendora Crossing.
WGA developed the drainage impact analyses for both developments using 2014 flood maps (see Townsend’s below). New maps are currently in development, but neither analysis mentions that. In fairness, WGA did attempt to calculate new flood elevations using its own measurements. But illustrations showing the old floodplain outlines, without mention of coming changes, may mislead potential buyers.
Elevation Land Solutions developed the construction plans for Townsend. It disclosed flood risk more fully.
It’s unclear at this time whether Montgomery County itself will attempt to update flood maps based on data acquired since Harvey. That could help buyers, but hurt builders.
Townsend Owned by Camcorp Management
I found little information about Townsend Reserve online except a certificate of formation on the Texas Secretary of State website.
It shows that Townsend Reserve, Ltd. was formed in September 2020 by general partner, Camcorp Management Inc. Both show addresses at 10410 Windermere Lakes Blvd., Houston, TX 77065. Camcorp was formed in 1993 and is associated with several developments in the region, including Brooklyn Trails in Porter. Executives of Camcorp Management are also officers in several homebuilding companies.
Like Brooklyn Trails, construction documents show that Townsend Reserve will be a high-density development.
Photos of Land Clearing To Date
I took the two photos below on 1/6/2022. They show the extent of current clearing and drainage mitigation.
Drainage Analysis Claims “No Adverse Impact”
The drainage impact analysis for Townsend Reserve concludes that the proposed project and associated drainage features will result in “no adverse impact” to existing flood hazard conditions along Gully Branch for storm events up to and including the 100-year event. “No adverse impact” is the gold standard. Engineers must certify it before Montgomery County will approve their plans.
Engineers do this by showing that the estimated runoff after development is no greater than the runoff before development. Detention ponds and channels supposedly hold back the increased peaks due to faster runoff...if all their assumptions and calculations are correct.
The 115.7-acre initial phase of Townsend Reserve’s development include a bypass channel and stormwater detention basin located along the south side of Gully Branch. You can clearly see both in the photos above.
For both Phase 1 and ultimate development, portions of the site will be elevated using fill from excavation of the bypass channel and detention basins. Engineers call this practice “cut and fill.” They do not bring fill into the flood plain. They just move the dirt around. So there’s no reduction of floodplain capacity.
Portions of this fill will be located within the 1% annual chance floodplain based on the 2014 map. WGA’s Drainage Impact Analysis claims, “The proposed project results in lower flood profiles throughout the project reach, and an overall reduction in floodplain storage volume. However, the proposed drainage features provide a more efficient use of the available floodplain storage volume, resulting in no increase in peak flows downstream.”
Analysis Based on Atlas-14 Rainfall, but Old Flood Maps
New post-Harvey flood maps due to be released within months will reportedly show the 100-year floodplain expanding into the 500-year floodplain in most places. That could dramatically alter some of the assumptions above. However, I can find no references to new maps in either WGA analysis for Splendora Crossing or Townsend Reserve.
Montgomery County Atlas-14 requirements are slightly lower than those in the Lake Houston Area because of slightly less rainfall. Therefore, the proposed drainage features for Townsend will result in slightly less detention capacity.
In fairness to developers, they can’t put their plans on hold indefinitely while new flood maps are drawn and approved. However, in fairness to buyers, you would think the engineering documents would at least disclose the potential of new maps. Likewise, what are man-made and natural factors that increase flood risk, as Elevation Land Solutions pointed out above?
The standards for disclosure in engineering seem lower than the standards for many other industries. I’ve read fuller disclosures on an aspirin bottle.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/15/2022
1600 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.