Los Pinos Phase One

3738-Acre Property Developing Near Huffman

On 7/22/22, I photographed two new developments at different stages of completion east of Huffman-Cleveland Road and south of the Grand Parkway. Both are being carved out of a 3,738-ac tract owned by LH Ranch LTD.

A third part of that tract, west of Huffman-Cleveland Road, is in the planning stages and submitting plats for approval.

General Location

The first two developments are immediately east of Huffman-Cleveland Road and south of Meyer Road. See red area below.

Red outlined area contains the two new developments. The third area is to the west (left) of the red box.

One of the new developments will become a “lagoon community” called Saint Tropez. Another will become a residential community called Los Pinos. The third will also become a residential community.

Saint Tropez

Megatel Homes has begun clearing land for what it says will become a $2 billion lagoon community spanning 1,000 acres.

Looking SW from over Meyer Road at the first part of what will become Saint Tropez.

According to Megatel, the development will eventually feature 4,500 homes, an enormous manmade lagoon with white sand beaches, paddle-boarding, kayaking, a swim-up bar, surf simulator, a water slide tower, a playground, cabanas, soundstage, splash park, and more.

An entertainment district will offer a restaurant, bar, teen arcade, bowling alley, and a children’s immersive indoor play area. That will certainly change the character of the rural Huffman area.

The development will feature both single and multi-family housing. Single-family homes will range in size from 1,500 square feet to 4,000 square feet and sell for between $350,000 to $700,000 each.

Full construction plans and a drainage analysis are not yet available. At this time, the Harris County Engineering Department has only issued a permit for clearing the land, but it shows a general layout.

Plan submitted to Harris County Engineering to obtain clearing permit. Intersection of Meyer Rd. and FM2100 in upper left.

Los Pinos

South of Saint Tropez, the second development is much further along. For it, I have obtained both construction plans and a drainage analysis via a FOIA Request.

Looking SE from over FM 2100. Note the large, linear detention basin in the foreground running diagonally through the frame.
Drainage Features

Phase One of the 130-acre Los Pinos Project will have approximately 250 single-family residential lots. The 1/3rd-acre lots will have about 30% impervious cover.

Plans claim that the total detention storage will exceed Harris County Flood Control District’s (HCFCD) minimum storage requirements. They require 270.4 acre feet, but the developer will provide 366.3 – 26% more.

Phase One sits in the FEMA’s unshaded X zone (higher than the 500-year flood plain). So there is no requirement for floodplain mitigation.

Preston Hydrologic, Inc., which conducted the drainage analysis, says, “The proposed detention basin will reduce the maximum sheet flow depths downstream of the development, for storm events up to and including the 1% AEP storm.” AEP means annual exceedance probability. And 1% refers to a 100-year storm.

The tract drains to Key Gully and two unnamed tributaries within the Luce Bayou watershed. This development falls outside Houston’s city limits in unincorporated Harris County.

Looking east from over FM 2100. Note a second large linear detention pond on the right bracketing the development.

Water in this area naturally flows toward the southeast where it enters Luce Bayou. The detention ponds that bracket the development are designed to contain rain falling on the development and water trying to flow across it.

Map from Preston Hydrologic’s drainage analysis shows layout of detention basins.

Six interconnected, dry-bottom detention basins will mitigate the impacts of development, according to hydrologists. The lots in proposed Phase 1 will drain into Ponds 2 and 6. Ponds 1, 3, 4, and 5 will intercept runoff from undeveloped land.

Peak flow estimate indicates ponds should hold a 100-year rainfall and cut peak outflow roughly in half (red vs. blue curve)
Claims No Adverse Impact

Hydrologists claim the development will cause “no adverse impacts” compared to the pre-project drainage conditions of the receiving streams in the Luce Bayou watershed. That includes downstream properties within the City of Houston.

They also estimate that overland sheet flow will not cause any adverse impacts downstream of the project site. In fact, the hydrologists claim that the proposed project will reduce peak flow rates and runoff volumes to areas downstream. That, they say, will result in reduced ponding depths in the Huffman Hills subdivision and adjacent properties.

Small Part of Future Development

The 130-acre Los Pinos Phase One tract represents only 0.34% of the larger LH Ranch Tract from which it is carved. The hydrologists caution that future phases will require future studies of their own. They indicate that future uses of the LH Ranch tract may include additional single-family residential development, commercial development, and a wetlands mitigation bank.

Wetlands Mitigation

Plans considered by the Army Corps in January of 2021 show wetland mitigation areas on both the west and east.

The mitigation bank proposal showed that 25% of the LH Ranch tract would be set aside for mitigation.

The LH Ranch tract bridges two watersheds. The western portion drains to the East Fork. The eastern portion drains to Luce Bayou. Both eventually drain into Lake Houston. Much of the land was originally wetlands.

Image from same general area taken on January 2021 when tree canopy did not obscure ground. Note standing water.
Will Increased Runoff Increase Erosion?

The side slopes of the ponds will be grass lined and have backslope interceptor swales to reduce erosion.

Preston Hydrologic believes that the increased runoff from Los Pinos Phase One will not increase erosion in Key Gully. They base that opinion on three factors: a USGS estimate of soil-erosion potential in the area, reduced peak flow, and slower water velocity at the peak.

Potential Problems

Section 5.3 of the drainage analysis cites an inventory of potential problems. Among them: Colony Ridge. Preston’s report says, “Currently, a large developing area adjacent to the Harris-Liberty County line may create problems for water quantity and quality. This development is large-lot rural and uses underground septic systems located in the effective floodplain area of Luce Bayou. Additionally, it is possible that inadequate drainage infrastructure is being provided in the area, which could lead to a possible increase of floodwater peak flow rates downstream in Harris County.”

For the complete drainage analysis, click here.

Other LH Ranch Property West of FM 2100

West of FM 2100, LH Ranch LTD and Friendswood Development applied to the Houston Planning Commission for plat approval of a 927-acre parcel on 8/4/22. This parcel is immediately west of the two projects discussed above. It drains into the East Fork on the left edge of the map below.

No further details are available at this time. I will watch it closely in the future months. One thing is clear: Huffman will never be the same.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/9/22

1806 Days since Hurricane Harvey

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