Early stages of clearing for Friendswood new 553 acre Sila development in Huffman

Friendswood Clearing 553 Acres in Huffman

Friendswood Development Company has started clearing 553 acres west of Huffman-Cleveland Road. It will eventually extend from Northwood County Estates on the north to Cypress Point on the south. Plat records show that Friendswood has named the development “Sila.”

Long, Narrow, Dense Homesites

The new residential community will contain an unspecified number of homesites, most long and narrow. This will certainly increase the percentage of impervious cover relative to the surrounding area.

Detail from Sila Section 3 plat approved by Houston Planning Commission in 2023.

Existing homes sit on larger, heavily wooded lots. So, this and other new, nearby developments will change the character of the area considerably. Along with that will come more traffic and congestion.

To put that in perspective, I talked to one homeowner in nearby Northwood Country Estates who owns a five-acre lot.

Forty-five of the lots indicated above could fit on his property.

Drainage Plans

Friendswood appears to be almost halfway done with clearing land for Sila. Consistent with best practices and construction plans, contractors appear to be clearing one section at a time, installing perimeter catchment ditches, erecting silt fence, and stabilizing land before moving on to the next area.

Detail from Sila drainage impact analysis.

The drainage analysis also claims that the development will provide more than the minimum amount of required detention-basin capacity. The minimum required is .65 acre feet per acre. But the engineering firm BGE says it will provide .67.

The minimum requirement was established by Harris County Flood Control District in 2019 after Hurricane Harvey. So, it should accommodate 100-year rainfalls projected under Atlas 14, NOAA’s current standard for rainfall estimates.

Approximately the northern half of this area has been cleared to date.

Approximately Half of Land Cleared So Far

The pictures below, all taken on 2/3/24, show the areas cleared so far.

Looking west over Huffman-Cleveland Road at extent of clearing. Curvature in road is caused by wide-angle-lens distortion.

The yellowish runoff in the foreground of the photo above is from Saint Tropez another new, but different development seen in the background of two pictures below.

Note the ditches that channel runoff away from homes in Northwood County Estates in upper right.

A 1.5 inch rain the night before I took these photos caused the ponding water you see.

Reverse angle. A series of three connected stormwater retention basins will flank the main entry road. Area to right (south) has not yet been cleared.
Looking east toward Saint Tropez across Huffman-Cleveland Road. Friendswood appears to have planted grass in foreground to reduce erosion.
Silt fence protects neighbors in other areas cleared earlier.

Proposed Lake Houston Mitigation Bank

The Sila property will drain into hundreds of acres that are part of the proposed Lake Houston Mitigation Bank.

Looking W at wetlands and floodplain between Sila and the East Fork San Jacinto.

LH Ranch has proposed creation of the wetlands mitigation bank here.

East Fork San Jacinto River and Lake Houston Park beyond.

The preservation of so much land will help protect homebuyers from flooding. It will also provide wildlife habitat and an exceptional recreational amenity. Here’s the prospectus for the mitigation bank presented to the Army Corps. Corps approval still appears to be pending as of this writing.

Areas of Concern

Two areas of concern, however, exist near the land most recently cleared. Contractors have not yet erected silt fence or dug protective ditches behind some of the neighboring homes on Davidson Lane in Northwood County Estates.

Looking S. Neighboring homes in upper right were still unprotected from runoff when I took this picture on 2/3/24. Water flows from left to right toward East Fork San Jacinto out of frame on the right.
Looking W. Note how runoff is draining across neighbor’s property. A larger rain could have caused damage.

Neighbors in Northwood County Estates are also concerned with how existing drainage will tie into Sila’s drainage. Elevations on county drawings and Sila’s drawings differ in places. So residents are asking for confirmation that existing ditches will continue to drain properly.

Ditch at end of Davidson Lane in Northwood Country Estates.

For the most part, with the exceptions noted above, Friendswood seems to be responsibly navigating the perilous early phase of development between clearing and the installation of drainage.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/4/24

2250 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.