colony ridge karma

Colony Ridge Karma: Area Floods While Developer Hosts Lawmakers

Colony Ridge taught the world about karma on Thursday, October 5, 2023. The development’s main entrance flooded during a meeting of legislators. The purpose of the meeting: to convince legislators that the development wasn’t as bad as media reports.

In eastern religions, karma is when a person’s actions decide his/her future. Think of cause and effect. Sometimes people get what they deserve.

The closed-door meeting and private tour for elected representatives happened in advance of a special session of the legislature that begins next Monday.

The main entrance to the development flooded during or immediately after the meeting. So did areas downstream in Plum Grove. The parking lot of an elementary school flooded so badly that Cleveland ISD had to reschedule an open house. I doubt flooded areas were on the tour.

Drainage Not Meeting Regulations

All this happened during a 1- to 2-year storm that dumped less than four inches of rain in a 12-hour period.

The gage at the San Jacinto East Fork and FM2090 received 3.8 inches of rain. According to Atlas 14, that falls almost exactly in the middle of totals for 1- to 2-year storms and is within the confidence interval of each.

However, the Liberty County subdivision regulations specify that resdiential street drains should be able to carry runoff from a 5-year storm (See page 132, Section 50, C1Ai). It also states, “Major thoroughfares should accommodate five-year peak runoff rates with a minimum ten-foot dry travel lane and 25-year peak runoff rates without overtopping curbs.” Regardless of how you classify the streets below…

Thursday’s rainfall should not have covered these streets if Colony Ridge had built roads, channels and stormwater detention basins to Liberty County standards.

But look at the pictures that residents sent me that day.

colony ridge karma
Photo supplied by reader showing Colony Ridge main entrance during storm on Thursday, October 5, while developer schmoozed lawmakers elsewhere.
FM1010 at Orange Branch downstream from Colony Ridge in Plum Grove during same storm.

Insufficiently mitigated drainage that causes flooding is a huge public safety issue. However, it certainly doesn’t get the attention it deserves short of a major disaster, such as Hurricane Harvey. Harvey wiped out the FM1010 bridge over Rocky Branch due to excessive, uncontrolled runoff from Colony Ridge. The bridge has not been repaired to this day.

FM1010, the main north-south artery between Huffman and Cleveland

That’s a huge public safety issue in itself. The legislature should address it. FM1010 is a major evacuation route.

But according to KHOU, lawmakers who attended the developer’s PR counter-offensive didn’t see anything wrong with Colony Ridge.

Karma Part II: High-Profile Crime

Ironically, in addition to flooding, a high-profile crime happened shortly before the meeting with lawmakers. A young man was kidnapped at gunpoint by three armed teens in Colony Ridge. That triggered a response by police, Texas Rangers and the Liberty County SWAT team. They captured one suspect and launched a manhunt for the other two.

Subsequently, the Liberty County Vindicator reported that a coalition of lawmakers citing rampant crime and a possible drug-cartel presence are urging the state to put the embattled Colony Ridge development under government conservatorship.

According to the Vindicator, the Texas House Appropriations, County Affairs, Public Health, and Criminal Jurisprudence committees proposed establishing funding for a Texas Department of Public Safety substation to multiply law enforcement presence in Colony Ridge. Colony Ridge remains unincorporated despite being the largest settlement in Liberty County.

Political/Media Brawl

The sudden surge in media attention surrounding Colony Ridge problems has generated its own media attention. The developer called his critics racists. Both the Associated Press and Houston Chronicle have rushed to his defense. They implied that Colony Ridge problems are overblown and that the developer is providing a path to homeownership for low-income Hispanics.

However, the stories ignored the developer’s usurious interest rates and couldn’t even get the age of the development correct. The lead sentence in the Chronicle article (which borrows heavily from the AP article) begins with “For two decades, Colony Ridge has been an escape for low income…” [Emphasis added.]

Satellite images in Google Earth show that the first Colony Ridge homes started appearing in October 2014 – nine years ago, not 20.

In the upcoming special session, I hope we can focus on real issues that affect human beings, such as flooding, and not just trade barbs. We need to get past the misinformation and political spin to solutions.

Tomorrow: Karma Part III

Tomorrow, I will publish a photo essay that shows Colony Ridge last Friday. Come back for Karma Part III. During Thursday’s rainfall, erosion damaged months of work on ditches and stormwater detention basins, also not built to Liberty County or industry standards.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/7/23

2230 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.