Tag Archive for: Kathy Perry Britton

Kathy Perry Britton Fights Being Deposed on Elm Grove Flooding

Lawyers for Perry Homes CEO, Kathy Perry Britton, have filed a motion for a protective order to quash a request for her deposition. The motion involves lawsuits against her company and its subsidiaries for two 2019 floods that affected hundreds of homeowners in Kingwood’s Elm Grove Village and North Kingwood Forest. Ms. Britton’s basic argument: it’s beneath her.

Catch-22: Claims No Unique or Personal Knowledge

Ms. Britton’s attorneys claim she is an “apex-level” official and cannot be deposed without showing that she has “unique or personal knowledge” of discoverable information. This puts hundreds of plaintiffs in a Catch-22 situation – a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules or limitations.

In essence, Ms. Britton says defendants can’t depose her because she doesn’t have anything worth knowing. But without deposing her, how could they know that?

Talking Is Too Intrusive

Ironically, her lawyers assert that plaintiffs must learn what she knows through “less intrusive methods” than talking to her. Her lawyers maintain that CEOs live by different rules than the rest of us, and cite seven pages of legal precedents to support their opinion.

Duh!!!!!!!! Making the Case for Negligence?

To reinforce her argument, Ms. Britton personally claims:

  • “I have no first-hand, personal knowledge of any relevant facts…”
  • “I have no first-hand, personal knowledge of the flooding events…”
  • “I have no first-hand, personal knowledge of the construction or engineering practices followed by Perry Homes, Figure Four Partners, Ltd., PSWA, Inc., or any of the subcontractors hired to work on the Woodridge Village Development.”
  • “I have no first-hand, personal knowledge of the selection, hiring, retention, training, or supervision of any of the subcontractors on the Woodridge Village Development.”
  • “I have no first-hand, personal knowledge of any engineering or design requirements for the Woodridge Village Development.”
  • “I have no first-hand, personal knowledge of the engineering design or plans implemented or created for the Woodridge Village Development, including whether and how such plans were approved or followed.”
  • “I have no first-hand, personal knowledge as to whether the work performed at the Woodridge Village Development was properly supervised.”
  • “I have no first-hand, personal knowledge as to what work was performed (or not performed) at the Woodridge Village Development…”

Perhaps this is why so many people flooded! In my opinion, it seems Ms. Britton just admitted negligence.

What’s Proper Response for CEO?

One might think that after approximately 200 homes flooded in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest on May 7, 2019, that any competent CEO would have been all over this situation to make sure it didn’t happen again. After all, hundreds of lives were disrupted and the damages could involve tens of millions of dollars. It doesn’t seem like a good time to stick your head in the sand.

If I were the CEO, I would at least investigate to see if my companies had any liability.

Bob Rehak

But no! Ms. Britton now lays bare the problem. The CEO kept her distance. It wasn’t her problem. And then it happened again.

Two to three times as many homes flooded during Imelda – only five months later. For the same reasons. And, if we take her at her word, she still kept her distance.

The floods were important enough for the Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo; Dave Martin, the Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Houston; and US Congressman Dan Crenshaw to visit Elm Grove. But not Kathy Perry Britton.

Talk About Intrusiveness!

Sitting for a deposition in a comfortable conference room seems far “less intrusive” than having several feet of muddy floodwater invade your home, destroy your belongings, and ruin your vehicles. (Ms. Britton, if you want to know what “intrusive” is, see below.)

Abel and Nancy Vera live next to Woodridge Village (in the background beyond the trees). They burned out two power washers trying to get several inches muck off their driveway after Imelda.
Vehicle destroyed in Imelda flood. Vera neighbor on Village Springs in Elm Grove.
Water in Keith Stewart's home on Shady Maple after May 7th flood in 2019.
Water in Keith Stewart’s home on Shady Maple after May 7th flood in 2019.
The hopes and dreams of children were dragged to the curb for the second time in five months after the September 19th flood in Elm Grove.
US Congressman Dan Crenshaw talking with Elm Grove residents whose homes were destroyed in the September 2019 flood.

It’s curious that a US Congressman took the time to get personal, first-hand knowledge of the floods in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. But Kathy Perry Britton could not. Perhaps picking wallpaper for her new model homes was more important.

I hope the judge in this case quashes the protective order. Read the full text of Ms. Britton’s Motion for a Protective Order here.

Read Plaintiff’s latest amended petition here.

For more about the history of the Woodridge Village fiasco see:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/24/2021

1334 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 583 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.

Perry Homes Says “Now or Never”: Selling the Titanic With an Iceberg Sticking Out of the Hull

Last week, the Houston Chronicle and Community Impact both ran stories about Perry Home’s potential sale of the Woodridge Village property. That property has been implicated in the flooding of Elm Grove twice last year. Sources who wish to remain anonymous have told me that Perry does NOT WANT to develop the property. They would prefer to sell it.

Those same sources also told me that Perry Homes started out asking for their purchase price of the land PLUS the money they spent partially developing it. However, as I reported last week, based on the newspaper articles, that appears to have changed at this point.

Woodridge Village after the May 7, 2019, flood

Full Text of Perry Homes’ Fact Sheet about Land Sale

Below is the full text of a “fact sheet” along with a link to the original PDF Perry Homes PR people allegedly sent out about the sale of their Woodridge Village Property in Montgomery County. I say allegedly because I have never known a public-relations person to put out information that is not on a letterhead and without contact information.


“For several months, we have been in discussions with Harris County to sell the +/- 268-acre Woodridge Village site in Montgomery County so that it can be used for regional detention. Our offer price is our original acquisition cost of $14,019,316.85. This sale would represent a loss of the development costs we have already spent, which are over $9 million to date. We would also be foregoing the future profits we would earn from building and selling homes.”

“The draft study performed by LJA Engineering advised this regional detention concept would remove more than 800 homes from the 500-year floodplain and provide additional flood mitigation for hundreds of other area homes. We are willing to absorb the losses referenced in the paragraph above because of the enormous benefit it will offer to downstream residents in Houston and Harris County.”

“If the property is not going to be used for regional detention, we plan to either develop it for Perry Homes or sell it. Work is ready to start on the remaining detention facilities. We have also listed it for sale to other developers at an initial asking price of $23 million, which will increase as additional funds are expended.”

“We first requested to meet with Harris County back in October 2019, and our first face to face meeting occurred on November 8th. At the request of Harris County officials, we even delayed the construction bid process so the commissioners could consider our proposal in executive session. After the executive session, we were informed that Harris County needed the City of Houston to partner with them to make the project occur. However, we have been informed the city is not looking to partner with the county on this project. In any event, we are concerned about delaying improvements any longer. If, by March 31st, we do not have reason to believe a definitive agreement for regional detention is likely, we will move forward with the remaining infrastructure and continue to entertain private market interest in the property.”

For a printable PDF of the fact sheet, click here.

Key Pieces of New News in Fact Sheet

In my opinion, there were four key pieces of new news in this when its was released.

  • First, Perry Homes has dropped its asking price by no longer demanding to recoup its development costs.
  • Second, Perry Homes’ supplier, LJA Engineering, has determined that turning the property into regional detention could mitigate flooding.
  • Third, Perry Homes is already trying to sell the property on the open market.
  • Fourth, Perry Homes has given Harris County a deadline to make a decision – March 31, 2020.

Reaction to the News

Dropping the asking price shows that Kathy Perry Britton has not become totally untethered from reality. However, it still seems high for someone trying to sell the Titanic with an iceberg sticking out of the side of it.

I wish LJA had told Perry Homes the property needed to become regional detention BEFORE Perry Homes bought the property. Duh!

Good luck, Kathy Perry Britton, with trying to sell this property on the open market. With oil prices below $30, the stock market gyrating wildly, 401K’s losing value, and businesses laying off employees, not many people will rush out to buy homes in the immediate future. Lest we forget, in 1985 when oil prices dropped to $35, housing values in Houston collapsed 50%.

Definition of Chutzpah: Perry Homes

Threatening the one potential buyer with a deadline shows, in my opinion, an incredible amount of chutzpah, as my Jewish friends say. Chutzpah (ho͝otspə) in the original Yiddish sense has a strongly negative connotation. It means “insolence,” “cheek,” “incredible gall” or “audacity.” However, since entering English, the word has taken on a broader, more positive meaning. Today, in the business world it usually means the amount of courage that a person has.

Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines the term as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”

For Perry Homes to put a deadline on this deal shows incredible chutzpah – especially when the world has become focused on the corona pandemic. It shows a similar and scary disconnectedness.

However, I must admit that everyone wants Perry Homes to do something with this property quickly. And it hardly seems fair to make them invest more money in it if Flood Control is going to buy it tomorrow.

An Offer to Perry Homes

So Kathy, I will make you a deal. I’ll buy Woodridge Village for a dollar. Then you can save face and say you dumped the property for 100 times what it was worth … before it flooded again in the spring rains. But the best part … you can take a $23 million tax deduction and make almost as much money as you would have if you had sold it in the first place. Boom! Done. You ditched that dog! You’re a hero again.

Woodridge Village after May flood. Saving money on earth moving by letting nature do it for you.

If they sell it to me, maybe I will get into the mud spa business.

Posted by Bob Rehak with Jeff Miller’s Titanic line

930 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 179 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.

Perry Homes Converting Woodridge Village to Scuba Center or Maybe a…

Woodridge Village after a one-inch rain.

From Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous

Kathy Perry Britton, CEO of Perry Homes, a titan of business and devotee of Zig “See You at the Top” Ziglar, has reportedly given up on her dream of building swamp homes in Woodridge Village. She has new ideas to turn mud into money.

Her confidante and hairdresser hints Britton has toyed with several options. The leading one at the moment: Turning the land into a world-class scuba center called “That Sinking Feeling.” She plans to market it to people who are underwater on their homes.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Boil ‘Em

“Perry Homes stands for quality,” she supposedly said. “And always will. If the scuba center doesn’t work, there’s no shortage of mud bugs out there. We’ll turn this into the Crawfish Capital of the Gulf Coast.” And then in a comment that reportedly angered crustacean-rights activists, she added, “If you can’t beat ’em, boil ’em!”

The irrepressible, unstoppable Britton reportedly has other backup options, too. “If that doesn’t work, Vince McMahon has approached us about turning this into the WWE Female Mud Wrestling Capital of the World,” Britton’s chambermaid reported. “He has plenty of stars lined up to turn this into a fairy-tale success. Vince has already received letters of intent from Misty Raine, Muddie Waters, and Hurrie Spitball Caine.”

Ms. Britton, paraphrasing Mark Twain, reportedly told her bootlicker, “The rumors of our bankruptcy have been greatly exaggerated. We have plenty of options to make a buck out there if suing the flood victims doesn’t work.”

According to unnamed insiders, Christian Louboutin has also supposedly brainstormed with Britton about brand extensions. Britton is confident there’s a market for stiletto hip-waders in Houston. “It’s a natural in places like Elm Grove. How else would women get to their cars in the rain?”

MoCo Offers Tax Incentives

The rumor mill also says that Wham-O has approached Perry Homes about turning Woodridge Village into the world’s largest Slip ‘N Slide. The irrepressible Britton told her fingernail artist, “Montgomery County even offered us tax breaks, finder’s fees, and margaritas. They’re so accommodating up there.”

In a rare moment of candor, Britton reportedly complained to her lawyer extraordinaire, J. Carey “Promise Them Anything” Gray. “I’m tired of all the mud slinging by these so-called flood victims in Elm Grove. It’s their fault they flooded. They built downstream from us. Duh! What were they thinking?”

“If worse comes to bratwurst,” Britton supposedly bragged to her chauffeur, “Home Depot and Lowes have both expressed interest in building mega repair centers on the property. They have raved to us about the possibilities. Repeat flooding. Hundreds of homes each time. Think about the potential synergies. My God, we could go public on the rumors alone and make a killing.”

The Right to Make a Profit

“I don’t know what these Elm Grove people are complaining about,” Britton reportedly grumbled to her masseuse. “I have to fly to Paris for a good mud bath. They get it for free.”

“These Elm Grove people are so hurtful. Always slinging mud. I have feelings, too. I just wish they could be positive for a change and see the marketing potential in all of this. We have a right to make a profit. This IS Texas after all.”

With that, Britton reportedly hurried off to discuss a separate deal with Monster MudTruck Rodeo organizers.

In Loving Memory of Robin Leach, A Parody Roast Post by Bob Rehak on 1/28/2020

882 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 131 since Imelda

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between characters in this post and executives of Perry Homes is strictly coincidental.

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.

Perry Homes Still Not Finished with Detention Pond After 90 Days

On October 17th, a lawyer for Perry Homes’ subsidiaries and contractors promised the City of Houston that it would complete the Woodridge Village S2 detention pond in 30-45 days. Ninety days later, they still had not finished.

Perry Homes Far from Complete

Despite the fact that Perry had substantially completed S2 before Imelda, it has now taken the company 2X-3X more time than they said it would – with no end in sight.

I took all the ground-level photos below on January 25, 2020.

Looking north toward the southern edge of S2. Perry is elevating the lip of the pond which is now as high as this truck.
Looking NW. The elevated lip tapers down as you move west of Village Springs. This should effectively shift the locus of the next flood.
View looking west at construction work on southern lip of pond. Backslope swales were destroyed. Grass is gone.
Because of lack of grass, increased slope, and lack of compaction, knee-high mud is piling up against silt fence.
Edythe Cogdill, owner of the home in the background, is near tears over the lack of progress in Woodridge Village, out of frame to the right.
Every home on Cogdill’s block flooded twice. This was the scene today. Six of eight homes on the block have been sold or are up for sale.
S2 Pond still under construction. Photo taken 1.20.2020.

Perry Drives Families from Their Homes

I visited three Elm Grove families today. All have “snapped.” They have that 1000-yard stare.

  • One man kept shouting over and over again, “What are we to do?”
  • One woman broke down crying.
  • Another family is getting ready to walk away from their home.

They are not alone.

  • On one block I saw 25 homes for sale.
  • At the end of Village Springs, six of eight owners had put their homes up for sale.
  • On Shady Gardens Drive, a resident told me 22 neighbors had moved out.

This neighborhood has already been destroyed by Perry Homes’ broken promises. Fear paralyzes the few families remaining. Fear every time it rains. Fear for their safety. Fear of financial ruin. Fear of renovating their homes only to be flooded a third time.

Perry Homes’ Actions Mock City of Houston Leaders

Perry Homes’s inexplicable and inexcusable delays mock the City of Houston, the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem and City Attorney. Their actions say with impunity, “We have nothing to fear from you. We are more powerful.”

The BBB has found that Perry Homes treats its customers with the same disdain.

Perhaps the City should start slow-walking Perry Homes’ permit applications until they live up to their promises.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/25/2020

879 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 128 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.

Woodridge Village Swamped by 1/4 Inch of Rain in 7 Days

.28 inches of rain in the last week swamped Woodridge Village. Woodridge contributed to the flooding of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice last year after contractors clearcut 268 acres.

Gage at West Lake Houston Parkway

Standing Water Over Half of Development

Looking southwest across Woodridge Village. Virtually half of subdivision is holding ponding water. This and all photos below taken on 1/20/2020.
A closer shot. Looking southwest across Woodridge Village at land once classified as wetlands by USGS

Extremely Low Infiltration Rate

Now we know why the runoff rate was so high after Perry Homes clearcut the land. The soils may be sandy clays with very low infiltration rates. Alternatively, there may be clay close to the surface that prevents water from infiltrating. 

If approximately 1/4 inch of rain in seven days does this, you can imagine how much would run off when you get 6 to 12 inches in a day.

LJA designed this development to hold 12 inches of rain that falls in 24 hours. But contractors still have only installed 23% of the detention. And the runoff rate may have been based on non-representative samples.

Mysteries Abound

Also Perry Homes’ clearcut the entire northern section when LJA promised that contractors would only cut 30 acres in Phase One. That could be a Career Limiting Move (CLM) for Perry Homes CEO Kathy Perry Britton.

Mysteriously, the core sampling done as part of the geotechnical report managed to miss all areas classified as wetlands in the USGS National Wetlands Inventory.

Mysteriously, Perry Homes hired a private consultant to review the wetlands rather than seeking a jurisdictional delineation from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Perry claims the consultant found no wetland issues though Perry has not released the consultant’s report.

Those wetland areas largely coincided with the areas now holding the ponding water.

USGS Wetlands Map. Background shows Woodridge Village BEFORE clearcutting.

So many questions and so little time.

Movement in Court Case and on Ground

The Harris County District Clerk’s office shows absolutely no movement in the court case between Perry subsidiaries, their contractors and flood victims. The last motion on file: December 27.

Meanwhile, Perry is still working on the S2 detention pond that they virtually completed last August. On October 17, lawyer extraordinaire and local savant J. Carey Gray promised they would finish that pond in 45 days. So far, it’s been 95. And they continue to UNDO work previously completed.

January 20, 2020. Contractors continue to elevate the southern and eastern edges of Woodridge Village’s S2 detention pond.
The same berm from ground level. Elevated several feet above Elm Grove. Backslope interceptor swale mysteriously eliminated. Ground now sloped to funnel runoff from slope directly into Elm Grove (left). Photo courtesy of Jeff Miller.
Where this pipe sticks up, there used to be a swale designed to keep water from flowing into Elm Grove and funnel it into the pond. See swale in background next to fence that contractors have not yet filled in. Photo courtesy of Jeff Miller.

This whole sad, sorry development reminds me of one of those Hollywood horror flicks in which the teenagers do everything wrong, oblivious to the danger that lurks beneath them. I expect to see Dracula’s hand poking up out of the clay any second.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/20/2020 with photos from Jeff Miller

874 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 123 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.

Elm Grove Says Merry Christmas to Perry Homes and Kathy Perry Britton in Strange and Wonderful Ways

Numerous people have sent ReduceFlooding.com stories about how Perry Homes and Kathy Perry Britton changed their Christmas. Some are real and some are just expressions of anger.

Adaptations Reported by Residents This Christmas

Stringing Christmas tree lights three feet up from the floor for safety.

Converting Christmas yard decorations to blow up plastic types that float.

Monitoring radar screens for storms instead of Santa.

Instead of toys, kids get interior doors, Home Depot gift cards, wallboard and wet vacs.

Ornamental reindeer on the roof equipped with scuba gear.

Decorating the dumpster in the front yard.

Isabelle Fleernor’s Vision of a Merry Perry Christmas

Letters to Santa Express Christmas Wishes

Several folks have also shared their letters to Santa:

Dear Santa,
All I want for Christmas is for you to get Perry Homes to finish the job they started so we can be safe.

Dear Santa,

Our elderly neighbors and the children are suffering. So please make Kathy Perry Britton admit her mistakes, apologize and go away.

Dear Santa,

Perry Homes has done nothing to stop flooding since May. Imelda proved that. We need someone who knows what they’re doing to step in and fix things.

CEO Deprived Thousands of Christmas

Yep. You get the idea. The Grinch has nothing on Kathy Perry Britton. The new “Queen of Mean” has already taken homes, Thanksgiving and Christmas from thousands of kids. Ms. Britton could soon take Easter, too. She:

And yet her highly paid PR staff positions her as a business leader. Only in Houston!

This is the stuff of legend. Or delusion. Perhaps we buy her a one-way Greyhound ticket to Guatemala.

No. On second thought, Guatemala is too nice. Other ideas gratefully accepted.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/25/2019 with input from Jeff Miller, Isabelle Fleenor and the community

848 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 95 since Imelda

Perry Homes Fails to Meet Own First Deadline For Additional Woodridge Village Detention

At the Kingwood Town Hall meeting on October 17th, 2019, Mayor Sylvester Turner read a letter from lawyer J. Carey Gray who represents Perry Homes and its subsidiaries against hundreds of flooded Elm Grove homeowners. The letter laid out a timetable – extending more than 2 years into the future – for completion of the detention ponds on the troubled Woodridge Village subdivision. The first step: finish the S2 pond, which was already substantially complete. Perry Homes gave itself 30-45 days for that task. As nonsensical as that sounded on October 17, they managed to miss the deadline … by not showing up … until after the deadline. 

Deadline Expired Yesterday With No Improvements to Pond

Yesterday marked 45 days since Lawyer Gray delivered his letter to the Houston City Attorney. Since then crews have worked several days on adding a concrete lining to a small portion of Taylor Gully. They also replaced some eroded dirt along the northern edge of S2. Still incomplete, however are

  • Excavation of the remaining dirt
  • Grass to stabilize the soil on the banks
  • A perimeter road required by the Montgomery County Drainage Criteria Manual
  • Lining for a severely eroded spillway between Taylor Gully and S2
  • Drainage of the detention pond
  • Backslope interceptor swales

Photos Demonstrate Lack of Progress

Here’s how the pond looked in September, two days after Imelda.

Status of S2 Pond on September 21, 2019, two days after Imelda
Status of S2 Pond on November 4, 2019, two and a half weeks after J. Carey Gray’s letter to City Attorney.

Here’s what it looks like today, 46 days after J. Carey Gray’s letter to the City Attorney. They had made some progress on lining the Taylor Gully channel behind the pond. But as far as the pond itself went, there was a lone excavator moving dirt that had eroded into the pond back up on the banks. That’s because they failed to establish grass there.

One day after the deadline for completing the S2 detention pond, Perry Homes had a lone excavator pushing eroded dirt back up onto the banks. Photo taken 12/3/2019.
Photo taken 12/3/2019. Hardly a bustling construction site with contractors racing to meet deadlines.

Only 735 more days before all the detention ponds are complete … assuming they can meet any of their own deadlines.

Questions Raised by Lack of Performance

The failure to meet this first deadline raises questions:

  • Is Perry Homes sincere? Can they ever be trusted for anything ever again?
  • Has Perry Homes lost its ability to deliver? Is the company financially crippled beyond repair?
  • Did Sylvester Turner extract terms from Perry Homes designed to get him through the general election?
  • Or did Perry Homes play Sylvester Turner to torpedo his chances in a runoff election?
  • Did Kathy Perry Britton, CEO of Perry Homes, think no one would remember?
  • Is Perry Homes holding the threat of future flooding over Elm Grove residents to force a settlement of their lawsuits?

If it’s the latter and there’s another flood – with this record of foot dragging – they’ve nuked themselves. It’s a Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School case study that will go down in the Annals of Corporate Stupidity. 

What can explain this level of ineptitude?

This has to be a huge embarrassment for the City of Houston and Montgomery County. It’s also a PR debacle for Sylvester Turner … in the middle of a hotly contested runoff election. Turner can’t do anything about that now except to tell the City Attorney to sharpen his spurs.

But if I were MoCo, I would claim Perry Homes’ performance bond and finish the work myself. 

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/3/2019

826 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 75 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent my opinions on matters of public policy and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village Investment Could Be Costliest Ever

Usually when you make an investment, the worst thing that could happen is that you lose all your principle. But Perry Homes could loose a hundred times more than they paid for Woodridge Village land. That takes special talent.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

The land that Woodridge Village sits on didn’t cost much; much of it was wetlands and many streams converged there. Regardless, a Perry Homes subsidiary, Figure Four Partners, bought the land. Montgomery County Appraisal District values the two main parcels at less than a million dollars. Together they comprise more than 80% of the 268-acre project. (See screen captures below from Montgomery County Appraisal District website.)

Real Costs Could Be 100X Greater

Now let’s look at the real costs to Perry. Just to screw up the land, they paid for:

  • An engineering study that underestimated drainage needs by at least 40%
  • Clearcutting and grading 268 acres
  • Filling in natural drainage
  • Excavating two detention ponds (out of five they promised)
  • Soil tests and a geotechnical report
  • A mile of pavement to the middle of nowhere
  • Two large box culverts
  • Storm drains

Let’s say that cost another five million.

But all of that contributed to the flooding of approximately 200 homes in May and 350 in September. Let’s assume the damage to each home totaled $100,000. That comes to about $55,000,000.

Furniture, appliances, rugs, window coverings and other contents? Let’s assume an average of $40,000. That would total another $22,000,000.

Let’s also assume that 300 cars flooded. Average cost – $30,000. Bingo. $9 million.

Now let’s estimate the reduced marketability of homes that flooded. To do this, let’s assume an average price of $200,000 per home and a 20% reduction. That would cost homeowners $40,000 each in the market value of their homes. That’s another $22,000,000.

And we haven’t even factored in the legal fees of J. Carey Gray, counselor extraordinaire.

If juries rule in favor of the flood victims, that million dollar investment could add up to more than $100 million in potential liabilities…before any penalties for negligence and/or gross negligence kick in.

Corps Now Investigating Wetland Violations

Perry Homes bought wetlands and must have thought that no one would notice when they filled them in. They didn’t even bother to request a jurisdictional determination from the Corps for the wetlands. That reduced costs even more. It’s a proven formula in business; minimize costs to maximize profits.

But perhaps Perry Homes went too far. People did notice. The wetlands that they conveniently ignored fall under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps. And the Corps is now investigating potential violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. That could get expensive all by itself.

Like Building Homes at the End of a Gunnery Range

It just keeps getting worse for Perry. This was kind of like buying land to build homes at the end of a gunnery range. A little risky.

But it’s too late to rethink that decision. No one will ever want to buy a home on this site. It’s less marketable than swampland near Chernobyl.

There’s another rule of thumb in business. When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. And that’s exactly what Perry has done. They have stopped work on the site for months. Work on detention ponds that would help protect people downstream from future flooding is going undone.

That means the numbers above could balloon with the next big rain. Or a negligence ruling by a jury. Yep, we’re in double Jeopardy now.

Career-Limiting Moves

Whoever made the decision to develop Woodridge Village definitely made a CLM (career-limiting move). At this point, even Perry Homes employees not associated with the decision must worry about their Christmas turkeys. Few careers or companies survive blunders that become case studies for how not to do something.

Eroding Profit Margins

Because of faulty assumptions and corner cutting, Perry Homes put itself between a rock and a hard place. They’ve managed to turn a million dollar investment into a potential $100 million liability. They can’t develop this property profitably now. And they can’t sell it. Who would want to buy this land and inherit the liability every time a storm cloud floats by?

To protect downstream homes from flooding, they would have to expand the detention ponds by at least 40%. And that would eliminate so many homesites that costs could exceed income. I say “at least” because the issue is not just Atlas-14 compliance. While digging the S2 detention pond, contractors hit water that’s not going away.

The S2 Detention Pond has lost about 20-30% of its capacity. The bottom 3-5 feet have been filled with ground water since contractors started digging to the target depth.

That means they can’t achieve their detention goals by going deeper; they’ll have to go wider. And that will cut into marketable land even more.

Toxic for Perry Homes

Let’s face it. When Perry Homes bought this property, Kathy Perry Britton swallowed a poison pill. Woodridge Village now has a toxic reputation that will infect the rest of Perry Homes. No one will ever be able to trust anything Perry Homes says again.

Just imagine how bad this could get for Perry Homes if Montgomery County and the City of Houston really started scrutinizing their permit applications in the future.

But what to do with this land? If you’re Kathy Perry Britton trying to spit shine the legacy of dear old dad, you can’t keep it. And you can’t sell it. You can’t even give it away. No land conservancy organization would take it until the damage done to wetlands and streams was remediated. That could take decades.

The Real Value of Wetlands

However, there are two pieces of good news in this mess.

  • If Perry Homes implodes, it won’t take a lot of investors with it; the company is private.
  • Perry Homes may serve as a lesson to other developers and teach them that the real value of wetlands is their downstream legal costs.

Time To Be Decisive

Just remember, Ms. Britton. Historically, 85% of Houston floods are non-tropical. So if you think you have eight more months to figure this out, think again.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/15/2019

808 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 57 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.