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Another Treeless MoCo Development: 83 Acres of Idyllic Floodplains, Floodway and Wetlands Sandwiched between Railroad Tracks and a Sewage Treatment Plant

Where once 83 acres of dense trees, natural wetlands, flood plains, and floodways stood, now we have a massive gash in the landscape. Below: several pictures of the new MoCo development called Brooklyn Trails, all taken on 12/27/2019.

The grand entrance to Brooklyn Trails lies next the railroad tracks that parallel Loop 494.
Contractors moving dirt to fill in the low spots. Note the elevation difference between the road and the land to the right.
Those damp spots are the remnants of wetlands.
The almost lunar landscape of Brooklyn Trails. None of this dirt work was visible in an aerial photo taken on 9/21/2019. See last photo below.

Before Clearcutting

Note how dense the forests were on this property before the developer cleared them in 2018. This map also shows the extent of floodplains and floodways wrapping around the property.

Cross-hatched area = floodway of Bens Branch Tributary #1. Aqua = 1% annual chance floodplain. Brown = .02% annual chance floodplain. Tributary #2 of Bens Branch is shown at far left. Source: FEMA Flood Hazard Layer Viewer.

Another View of the Floodplains

This shows the proximity to two unnamed tributaries of Bens Branch.

Brooklyn Trails lies inside the U formed by Ben’s Branch Tributaries #1 and #2, approximately where the letter C is and to its right.

Sandwiched Between Railroad Tracks and a Sewage Plant

Downstream areas experienced increased flooding this year after clearcutting.

Brooklyn LTD clearcut this land in 2018. Was there a link to the unusual downstream flooding on Bens Branch experienced in 2019?

2/23/2019 satellite image from Google Earth

Riddled with Wetlands

From the US Fish and Wildlife Service National Inventory of Wetlands.

Replaced with High-Density Development

Despite all the pictures, maps and overlays, you still only have half the picture. Here’s what the developer intends to do with Section One of the property, the northern part above the bisecting road.

They intend to put 207 single-family residential homes on roughly 40 acres, along with streets with lofty names, such as Porter Mountain Drive and Cascade Mountain Drive.

A retention pond will go in the floodplain and, it appears, the floodway on the southern section of land. Plans for the rest of the southern section have not yet been released.

First half of section one. Extention in next image below lines up along the “matchline” indicated at right.
Second half of section one. Again, it lines up with matchline for first diagram. A neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous says work on the detention pond was not finished as of early December of 2019, about a year after land was first cleared.

Convoluted Trail of Ownership

Three partners formed Brooklyn Trails, LTD in the months following Hurricane Harvey. The Texas Secretary of State shows it to be one of almost two dozen real estate ventures owned by a company called Camcorp Management Inc.

The name Jenni Trapolino at 10410 Windermere Lakes Blvd. Houston, TX 77065 USA, appears as president, Vice President, registered agent, assistant manager, member, director or general partner of 23 of those. One is Benchmark Acquisitions, the company that bought the land from Hendricks and then resold it to Brooklyn Trails.

The names Mark Tolleffsrud and Scott Bauer show as other VPs of Campcorp Management at the same address. However, neither of those names is affiliated with any other business entities in Texas, according to the Texas SOS Direct database.

Ms. Trapolino must be quite the real-estate mogul, even though she reportedly is trying to retire. Searching on variations of her name yields additional companies and partnerships. Under Jennie or Jennie R Trapolino, Texas SoS Direct shows 29 related entities. Her name also shows up as VP of land acquisition for Legend Homes and Academy Development. Legend Homes has the same corporate address as most of Ms. Trapolino’s other interests on Windermere Lakes.

Interesting Timing: One Week After Harvey

Interesting that Benchmark Acquisitions bought the property from Hendricks less than a week after Harvey.

Two weeks later, Jennie Trapolino filed a certificate of formation for the Brooklyn Trails limited partnership, listing Lauren C. Sullivan, the President of Legend Homes as the registered agent.

Were they looking to pick up a bargain on flooded property? If so…

Price Per Acre Five Times Higher than Woodridge

Compared to the nearby Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village property, Brooklyn Trails overpaid. Perry paid roughly a million dollars for 268 acres. That’s roughly $3,731 per acre.

Assuming the MCAD market value shown above reflects the purchase price, Trapolino paid $19,771 per acre.

That’s 5X more! Granted you’re closer to US59. But you still have to contend with floodways, floodplains, railroad horns, a sewage treatment plant, and homes built over soggy wetlands. Hope springs eternal. I guess if you’re in the development business, pessimism just isn’t in your gene pool.

Timing of Detention Vs. Flooding

In Woodridge Village, Perry Homes clearcut the entire site before starting excavation work on development. That proved to be a costly miscalculation when Elm Grove Flooded twice this year.

Likewise, Brooklyn Trails clearcut this property in 2018, but only recently started dirt work. A neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous shared pictures showing that the detention pond still was not complete a year later. Could there be a relationship between that and downstream flooding along Northpark Drive and Ben’s Branch in May and September? The photo below was taken AFTER Imelda.

Clearcutting all the land before installing detention may have contributed to flooding in both locations. This is a practice that Montgomery County should prohibit.

Traces of wetlands still remained on Brooklyn Trails Section One as of 9/21/2019 when I took this aerial photo.

There’s much more to talk about with this development. For instance, as with Woodridge Village, Brooklyn Trails appeared to be playing a game of beat the clock. By filing for permits when they did, they ensured that the detention pond did not have to comply with the new NOAA Atlas 14 rainfall norms. And as with Woodridge Village, that means any detention built here will fall 40% short of the real need. That’s something else MoCo should prohibit. It’s like licensing planes that you know will crash.

Stay tuned in coming weeks for more on Brooklyn Trails.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/28/2019

851 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 100 after Imelda

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.