Colony Ridge

Recommendations for Special Session of Texas Legislature on Colony Ridge

Today, the Texas legislature began another special session. On the agenda: Colony Ridge, the controversial Liberty County development in so many headlines lately.

Colony Ridge
Colony Ridge, the world’s largest trailer park, now covers approximately 20,000 acres, an area 50% larger than Manhattan.

During the last four years, I have published more than 60 articles about Colony Ridge. I have based them on countless drive throughs, flyovers, and interviews with residents, engineers and public officials.

I have seen with my own eyes, over and over again, many drainage and related infrastructure issues that the state legislature could address. In my opinion, the legislature should address the following.

Please forward this link to all your friends. Ask them to contact their state legislators in support of these recommendations.

List of Infrastructure Recommendations for Special Session

  • Get Liberty County to enforce its drainage regulations.
  • Protect downstream areas from Colony Ridge erosion by forcing the developer to comply with Liberty County regulations, including those that call for:
    • Planting grass on the side slopes of drainage channels and stormwater detention basins
    • Installing backslope interceptor swales and pipes to protect side slopes from sheet flow that causes erosion
    • Installing pilot channels along the bottom of detention basins
  • Tell TxDoT to fix FM1010, a vital evacuation route for tens of thousands of people.
  • Update state building codes to reduce squalor and make Texas eligible for more than a billion in FEMA BRIC funding which could help address Colony Ridge infrastructure issues.
  • Put teeth into the State Water Code Section 11.086 to ensure Colony Ridge and others provide adequate stormwater detention that helps protect downstream residents from flooding.
  • Create minimum drainage standards that:
    • Mandate use of Atlas 14 or latest FEMA rainfall rates
    • Require minimum detention rates of .55 acre feet per acre
    • Prohibit use of hydrograph timing surveys
    • Require “No net fill in current mapped 500-year floodplain”
    • Require minimum finished floor elevations of new structures above the 500-year flood elevation
  • Protect wetlands
  • Stiffen penalties for discharging sewage into waterways and ditches.

In addition, the state should:

  • Require local governments to preserve records and comply with TPIA/FOIA requests.
  • Prohibit “insider” business deals between elected/appointed officials and developers.

In regard to insider business deals, one of the Colony Ridge developers who controls the local MMD proposed giving a contract for almost $10 million to a paving company controlled by his family. I’m told the final figure actually approved was closer to $15 million. Shouldn’t the developer be responsible for that?

Why We Need Action

Everybody is downstream from somebody else. Or they will be someday. The purpose of the legislature is to develop rules that enable us all to live safely together. Colony Ridge issues affect people both upstream and downstream.

Downstream Impact

Downstream residents have had to pay tens of millions of dollars for dredging sediment in the San Jacinto River. Much of that sediment was contributed by Colony Ridge.

That sediment also contributed to flooding thousands of homes when it blocked the river.

Finally, the City of Houston is spending $1.77 billion dollars to build a water treatment plant that removes sediment and other pollutants coming into Lake Houston from Colony Ridge and places like it. And we spent another $381 million on the Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project to bring in water from the Trinity River.

So, we are spending more than $2.1 billion to bring in and clean up water that Colony Ridge is polluting. Stop the treadmill! Please!

Upstream Issues

Colony Ridge and Plum Grove residents have suffered, too. In addition to the drainage issues described in previous posts, here is a list of other infrastructure issues that a Colony Ridge property owner sent me:

  • Emergency evacuation routes limited and congested. Few ways in or out.
  • No street lights in most of the development.
  • No sidewalks
  • Kids are waiting for school buses on unlit street corners 
  • Aggressive dogs attack people when walking in the streets 
  • Minimal fire hydrants for our area
  • Cement plants in our neighborhood spew silica dust for miles without TCEQ or EPA permits
  • No school zone lights for school in Santa Fe 
  • Kids have no safe place to play outside due to unlawful discharge of firearms
  • Major traffic congestion; situation deteriorating 
  • Ambulances have trouble getting into area and back out to a hospital
  • Many missing street signs for traffic control (stop, yield, school zone, etc.)

Both Developer and Legislature Under a Microscope

It will be interesting to see whether the legislature actually does anything substantive about the infrastructure issues in Colony Ridge or whether they just deport a few people, declare a symbolic victory and continue accepting donations from the developer. Let’s be positive for now. Who thought things would ever get this far?!!!

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/9/2023

2232 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.