Last week, I started getting barraged by emails from stunned Lakewood Cove residents waking up to the sound of bulldozers and chainsaws. Someone was cutting down 22 acres of trees between them and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks that parallel Loop 494 – for an RV park – without any public notice.
I went to the site on Monday and started investigating. On Wednesday, I posted what I had learned. Then I kept researching. Half a day on Thursday. All day Friday. And all day Saturday. It’s like digging into a House of Mirrors. But it’s no funhouse. There are so many legal entities with so many similar names that it’s easy to confuse them. That may be the intention.
For instance, you might think that Higbie Ventures LP is the same as Higbie Ventures GP LLC or Higbie Ventures of Texas, Inc. Likewise, you might think Laurel Springs RV is the same as LS RV Resort. But it’s not an abbreviation. They play different roles. But what are they?
So Many Questions, So Little Time
The deeper I dig into the shadowy web of contractors, managers, and investors behind this venture, the more questions I had.
- According to residents who have tried to contact them, they refuse to answer questions or meet with the affected community. Why?
- The City of Houston Planning Commission, Public Works Department and District E office have not returned phone calls or emails. Why?
- The Harris County Appraisal District website contains incomplete and dated records about the land. Why?
- The Harris County Flood Control District said they were not given an opportunity to review the plans even though part of the property is in the flood plain of the San Jacinto West Fork.
- The City permits for the work show a different legal entity than the TCEQ stormwater permit. Why?
- According to the Secretary of State’s website, the two organizations supposedly responsible for the clearing haven’t filed franchise-tax public-information reports in more than two years – but are somehow still doing business in the State of Texas. Why?
- Could that affect the validity of the building permits?
- The contractor responsible for the clearing (according to the TCEQ permit) has NO website, and has apparently subcontracted the work to another company. Why?
- The man behind the primary contractor has started at least 11 companies or partnerships in Texas. None have websites. Most operate out of a PO Box. Most use the same phone number. He’s lost four of the entities to tax forfeitures and dissolved two others. What’s going on there?
- And the people who own the property operate a maze of more than 100 other partnerships and corporations. Will they keep and manage the property or sell it to investors?
- How will:
- The property be managed and marketed? Who will it cater to?
- The RV park affect drainage in Lakewood Cove next door?
- Heavy vehicles affect the streets?
- The absence of trees affect train noise?
Trees Mostly Gone
Just before sundown tonight, I went back to see how many trees remained. And the answer was, “not many.” They seem to have cleared virtually the entire site with the exception of the southern end where the detention pond will go. There’s also a strip of trees about two trees wide next to the utility corridor that parallels the railroad tracks. Next to Laurel Springs, that narrows to one tree in some places and zero in others.
The developer has executed a perfect blitzkrieg attack that would make Hitler jealous.
Below are pictures taken on Saturday, 10/30/2021.
At this rate, clearing could be completed in a week or two.
Location of Project
For those of you who don’t know where Lakewood Cove is, see below. It’s the area immediately to the right of the red. Friendswood Development Company never owned this land, so it’s not technically a part of “Kingwood,” which is a Friendswood trademark. Therefore, it doesn’t legally enjoy the protection of Kingwood’s deed restrictions. However, in every other sense, it is very much a part of the Kingwood community.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/30/2021 and revised on 10/31/2021 to include the “Location of Project” information immediately above.
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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.