land clearing

Developer Clearing Land Without Normal Safeguards

Kingwood Residences HTX II LLC is clearing 11.5 acres of land on West Lake Houston Parkway (WLHP) without the normal safeguards to control sediment-laden runoff. In recent weeks, concerned residents have emailed me multiple pictures like the ones below.

No silt fence to retain sediment-laden runoff on site.
Instead, runoff is draining into the street and storm sewers.

Normally, contractors would protect storm drains by catching silt with sand bags placed in the gutters. But this afternoon, I saw none of those either…even though the contractors were working furiously on a Sunday afternoon.

The buildup of sediment in our rivers, streams, and channels was a primary contributing cause of flooding. So why don’t contractors exercise greater caution?

Nature of Phase II Still Uncertain

The land in question is adjacent to another 19.7 acres to the northwest owned by the same developer. That land was cleared starting in 2022.

Contractors have been building apartments since then. The work was supposed to be complete by the end of last year, but is still in progress.

Note address.

It’s not clear what the developer plans to put on Phase II’s land, which was purchased from Pinehurst Trail Holdings LLC in June 2023.

However, the address – Kings River Commercial Road – and the developer’s website, suggest it may be commercial. The website boasts that the developer specializes in high-end, mixed-use apartment complexes within walking distance of retail.

Kingwood Residences HTX and HTX II LLC are limited liability companies owned by High Street Residential, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Trammell Crow Company in Dallas. Their local headquarters are on 2800 POST OAK BLVD STE 400, HOUSTON TX 77056-6169.

More Photos Taken on 1/14/24

All photos below were all taken today, 1/14/24.

Looking N toward San Jacinto West Fork out of sight in background. West Lake Houston Parkway is on left next to soupy area in foreground.

According to the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) gage at the West Fork and WLHP less than a mile north, this area last received rain on January 8 and it totaled only .4 inches.

Reverse angle, looking S. WLHP on right. Kings Park Way cuts through middle of frame.
Detention basin for Phase I (middle left) may or may not serve Phase II.
Cleared trees stacked three stories high.

Enough Detention?

For properties this size, HCFCD requires .65 acre feet of stormwater detention basin capacity per acre of developed land. That comes out to roughly 20 acre feet for these combined properties.

I have requested drainage analyses and construction plans from HCFCD but have not yet received them. More news when I do.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, no wetlands exist on either parcel of land. And current FEMA flood maps show both parcels are out of floodplains.

The primary flooding concerns for these properties appear to be making sure they have sufficient detention capacity and that they don’t clog storm drains with sediment.

Ten Elements of an Effective Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) Plan

The EPA lists 10 elements of an effective erosion control plan.

  1. Minimize Needless Clearing and Grading
  2. Protect Waterways and Stabilize Drainage Ways
  3. Phase Construction to Limit Soil Exposure and Compaction
  4. Stabilize Exposed Soils Immediately
  5. Protect Steep Slopes and Cuts
  6. Install Perimeter Controls to Filter Sediments
  7. Employ Advanced Sediment Settling Controls
  8. Certify Contractors on ESC Plan Implementation
  9. Adjust ESC Plan at Construction Site
  10. Assess ESC Practices After Storms

In fairness, the developer has left a natural border and phased construction. That’s good. But as the resident photos above show, they are not preventing sediment from leaving the site.

Posted by Bob Rehak 1/14/24

2329 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.