Tag Archive for: drainage plans

Officials Slapped With Criminal Complaints for Failure to Produce Records in Colony Ridge Investigation

On Friday, 4/23/2021, journalist-turned-private-investigator Wayne Dolcefino filed criminal complaints against two public officials for failure to comply with the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) in regard to his widening Colony-Ridge probe.

The TPIA requests included communication records between State Representative Ernest Bailes, Colony Ridge developer Trey Harris, and Colony Ridge lawyer Brent Lane. Dolcefino has also been frustrated in his attempts to obtain communication records from Liberty County Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur.

Behind the Criminal Complaints

Dolcefino suspects the records may shed light on the relationship between developers and public officials, and who is behind the failure of Liberty County to produce a complete set of Colony Ridge drainage analyses. The drainage reports were sought earlier under a separate TPIA request and relate to flooding issues that suddenly developed in Plum Grove. After Colony Ridge development began, the town’s main road washed out and homes started flooding repeatedly.

The question now is “Why?” are officials so reluctant to comply with the law?

After 4 months, the County still has not supplied the drainage records. Nor has it fully complied with the request for communication records. The latter triggered Dolcefino’s criminal complaints.

Earnest Bailes and Greg Arthur Target of Complaints

District 18 State Representative Ernest Bailes and Liberty County Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur are the first,” according to Dolcefino, to be subjects of criminal complaints regarding the hiding of public records. The complaints filed in Liberty, San Jacinto and Travis Counties are part of a widening Dolcefino Consulting investigation of Liberty County’s controversial Colony Ridge real-estate development.

“We do not tolerate public officials who ignore state law. The citizens of Plum Grove deserve to see the records that we have been asking for.”

Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting

Still Seeking Communication Records After 4 Months

Bailes’ Communication Records

Dolcefino formally requested a year of Representative Earnest Bailes communication records relating to state business; Trey Harris, the Colony Ridge Developer; and Brent Lane, Harris’ attorney. Dolcefino made the request in December 2020.

In four months since then, Bailes has provided screenshots for just one unidentified week of phone calls and seven text messages. Bailes’ office maintains there are no additional records. According to Dolcefino, Representative Bailes also refused to say whether he accepted trips from the developer.

“We have spoken with the San Jacinto County District Attorney and the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office,” said Dolcefino. “We are confident they will seek the immediate production of these records. Representative Bailes has had four months to destroy the records of his text messages and this investigation should include efforts to recover what was on his phone when our request was made.”

Arthur’s Communication Records

Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur was supposed to supply more than a year of communications records pertaining to county business. Dolcefino says Arthur produced pictures of phone records on a computer screen taken with a cell phone.  “All of the images were hard to read and many were totally illegible,” said Dolcefino. “Commissioner Arthur has ignored repeated requests for the actual, legible phone records.”

Example of records produced by Liberty County Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur – out of focus images of computer screen.

Drainage Records Still Missing, Too

These criminal complaints came months after county officials failed to find and produce missing drainage reports. The engineering firm that worked for Colony Ridge, Landplan Engineering, has also refused requests by Dolcefino Consulting to provide the drainage records.

The records are instrumental in determining if Colony Ridge broke Liberty County development rules.

Wayne Dolcefino

“We have not asked for the Magna Carta,” says Dolcefino. “These are records that were allegedly reviewed by the former county engineer before he put his state stamp on their plans just a few years ago. At least we know where the Magna Carta is.”

Why Finding Drainage Docs Is Important

In response to an initial request for drainage analyses and construction plans for all Colony Ridge subdivisions, Liberty County initially produced 39 documents. Most mischaracterized soil types in a way that could have contributed to flooding.

Landplan Engineering classified Colony Ridge soils as more permeable than USDA says they are.

If you go by Landplan’s numbers, more rain would soak in and less would run off. That reduces the amount of detention ponds needed, saves the developer money, and lets the developer sell more lots.

But if you go by the USDA numbers, the opposite is true. More rain runs off, more detention ponds are needed, costs go up, and the developer sells fewer lots. And if you don’t build enough detention ponds, people downstream flood.

Who’s right? No one seems to be able to supply soil samples to verify the information. Dolcefino also requested those. But the infiltration rates of the soil types were not the only problem in the Landplan reports.

None of the reports explained HOW Landplan calculated drainage requirements. And none certified, as required by law, that there would be no negative impact to upstream or downstream properties.

Bob Rehak

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/25/2021 based on input provided by Dolcefino Consulting and Liberty County

1335 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 584 since 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.

Developer Seeks City Approval to Expand Commons of Lake Houston into Floodplain – Without Detention Ponds

Clarification: General plans, as described below, are primarily about street layouts. However, many people have been trying to raise awareness at the Planning Commission that street patterns are affected to a significant degree by the volume and and layout of drainage and detention features. And, of course with Atlas 14 that is more true than ever. Danny Signorelli, CEO of the Signorelli Companies, took issue with this post. I offered him an opportunity to print a rebuttal verbatim. He refused the offer.

Signorelli Companies have filed a general plan with City of Houston Planning Commission for a new development on the San Jacinto East Fork. It’s called “Crossing at the Commons of Lake Houston.”

Second Time Around for Developer

According to residents in other parts of the Commons, Signorelli tried to develop this property before and reportedly wanted to add 4-6 feet of fill to the floodplain. It’s not yet clear what they have in mind for this iteration of the project. However, comparing the general plan to FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer shows that parts of the development are still in the flood plain. (See below.)

No Detention Ponds Shown on Plans

The general plan filed with the planning commission also shows that the developer shows no plans for detention ponds on the property. A best practice to reduce flooding is to “retain your rain.”

General plan filed with the City of Houston Planning Commission shows no detention ponds. For a large, high res PDF, click here.


Here are satellite and close-up views of where the new subdivision would be relative to the the surrounding area and existing parts of the development.

Crossing At the Commons of Lake Houston is in the Huffman area opposite Lake Houston Park and East End Park on the west side of the East Fork.
Crossing at the Commons of Lake Houston relative to existing streets in the Commons. From General Plan inset.

Floodplain Issues

Parts of the proposed development will be in the floodplain. And those floodplains will soon expand to include even more homes. See the two dotted lines below.

Close up of PDF above shows how 100-year floodplain (dotted line on left) and 500-year (dotted line on right) would impact proposed homesites. Note the drainage easement in the lower left.
FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer shows parts of the proposed new 75.3-acre subdivision would be in the 100- and 500-year floodplain.

Ironically, just last night, the City of Houston and its partners (Harris County Flood Control, Montgomery County and the SJRA) presented a draft of the findings of the San Jacinto River Master Drainage Plan. In it, they recommended avoiding flood plain development to keep people out of harm’s way. See slide below from their presentation.

Slide from San Jacinto River Master Drainage Plan Draft Report shows how adding fill to flood plains can affect other homes in area.

The presenter also discussed how the floodplains were expanding due to revisions of flood maps based on new hydraulic and hydrologic modeling not yet been shared with FEMA.

The 100-year flood plain in many areas will like expand well into the 500. And the 500-year flood plain will likely expand into areas previously not shown in ANY floodplain.

San Jacinto River Master Drainage Plan Draft Report 8/13/2020

Thus, the number of homes affected by floods could greatly expand beyond the number shown above.

Drainage in Commons Already a Problem

Plans also show that homes will be built very close to a drainage easement. Yet existing ditches in the Commons are eroding badly due to lack of maintenance. Below is a picture of one taken in January last year. Residents say the trees are still there and the erosion became much worse during floods in May and Imelda.

Commons drainage ditch photographed last year.

Less Than One Fourth of Property Now Under Consideration

The tract is 332 acres, but only 75.3 is proposed for development at this time.  It is entirely located within the incorporated limits of the City of Houston. The entire tract is adjacent to COH flooding easements for Lake Houston. 

How to Voice Concerns, If You Have Them

Here’s how you can voice concerns, if you have them. The City Planning Commission will hold virtual meetings until further notice. So it’s very easy to make public comments. You can sign up to speak by going to the Planning Commission Home Page.

The next Planning Commission meeting is Thursday, August 20, 2020. If you’d like to speak, you must sign up at least 24 hours before the meeting.

Use the online speaker form at https://www.tfaforms.com/4816241 or submit comments on an item via email to speakercomments.pc@houstontx.gov.

Speakers have only TWO MINUTES. Key points to consider:

  • Floodplain will officially be expanding soon.
  • Some of these homes are already in it.
  • Many more soon will be.
  • That could require fill.
  • And fill will make flooding worse for other homes near the river on both sides.
  • No detention ponds or drainage plans are shown.
  • The Planning Commission should consider these things.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/14/2020

1081 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.

Engineering Plans for Figure Four Development Near Elm Grove

Below are several links that allow you to download the engineering plans for Woodridge Village, sections one and two. I haven’t had time to read them yet. Frankly they make my eyeballs bleed. But maybe some younger eyes can help.

I’m posting these because Kingwood is full of engineers who are more qualified to evaluate them than I. All of us are smarter than one of us.

Cover page of first doc showing detention plans.

Woodridge Village, Sections One and Two, comprise those huge clearcut areas north of Elm Grove. During heavy rains last week, video shows water pouring out of the newly clearcut section into Elm Grove. Something appears to have gone wrong. Texas law prohibits flooding your neighbors.

Please Help Review Engineering Plans

The first talks about their constructions plans for Waterline Relocation and Detention Ponds.

The second talks about their Water, Sanitary Sewer and Drainage Facilities & Paving and Appurtenances for Section 1 of the development.

The third talks about their Water, Sanitary Sewer and Drainage Facilities & Paving and Appurtenances for Section 2 of the development.

I would love to hear from civil engineers who know about these things. Reply in confidence through the contact form on this web site.

A shout-out to Houston City Council Member Dave Martin and his staff for supplying these documents. And another to Montgomery County for supplying them to him.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/15/2019

624 Days since Hurricane Harvey