Tag Archive for: Kingwood Cove

CoH Public Works Asking for More Details on Kingwood Cove Golf Course Conversion

The City of Houston Planning Commission was to have considered plat approval on September 30th for redevelopment of the old Kingwood Cove Golf Course acquired by Ron Holley and his FLOG Partners. However, I learned late today from District E Councilman Dave Martin’s office that Planning Commission staff is recommending postponing the public hearing until at least the next regularly scheduled meeting on October 14th.

The Planning Department Staff met with Houston Public Works staff. Reportedly, the applicant has not yet provided all the information necessary for Publics Works to review the application.

Drainage Study Reportedly Not Detailed Enough

According to Martin’s office, Holley’s people submitted a drainage study for the Kingwood Cove development. However…

“Public Works indicated that it needed a more detailed analysis.”

Spokesperson for District E Council Member Dave Martin

Therefore, Planning Department Staff will reportedly recommend to the Planning Commission that Commissioners postpone the public hearing. This will likely happen in the meeting itself when the agenda item is called. But a delay is not automatically guaranteed.

As of this afternoon, approval of the Kingwood Cove plats was still on the agenda.

If Delayed, October 14 Next Possible Date

If the applicant were to provide all required information immediately so that staff could review and provide recommendations, the earliest date for reconsideration would be October 14th (the next meeting following September 30).

The Planning Commission posted Holley’s current plans in two places:

  • A 24-page abbreviated version as part of the agenda
  • The 238-page full submission at a special link.

Holley’s plans are #133 on the Agenda. I’ve extracted the 24 relevant pages to make file size manageable (2.5 megs).

The full submission is much larger but I compressed the file size from 75 megs to 50 megs. It includes the drainage analysis.

I haven’t had time to review the entire set of plans yet, so I’m including them all here for you to review. However, I did note several items that may explain why Public Works raised questions.

No HCFCD Check Off Yet

Apparently, no one from Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has reviewed or signed the drainage plans yet. Note how the signature blocks are empty.

No Public Works Check Off Yet

Also note empty signature blocks on Page 58 of 238 page PDF.

Beat-the-Peak Method Employed in Flood Calculations

The Kingwood Cove engineers apparently used the beat-the-peak hydrologic-timing method to support their claim of “no adverse impact.” They also based their calculations on profiles developed from 2001 LIDAR data and a 2012 model of the river basin.

Harris County and City of Houston have been urging upstream counties to abandon the beat-the-peak methodology for years now, in part because it does not take into account upstream developments since the last models were developed. It also allows developers to understate the amount of runoff subject to detention requirements.

Wrong Detention Ratios Apparently Used

The project engineers say on page 52 of the 238-page PDF that they based their conclusion of “no adverse impact” on a floodwater detention ratio of .55 acre feet of detention per acre. But the City requires .65 acre feet per acre. So does HCFCD. Thus, the capacity of the detention pond appears to be understated.

Detention Pond Just 2.5 Feet Above Normal River Level

All the detention is located next to the floodway, where it could quickly become overwhelmed by rising floodwaters.

According to the Kingwood Cove plans (page 47 of full set) the water surface of the detention pond would be at 47 feet. That’s just 2.5 feet above the normal river level and six feet below the parking lot for the golf course (according to the USGS National Map elevation profiler). It’s also 2.3 feet below the level where West Fork flooding becomes likely, according to the gage data at US59.

Floodway Boundary Will Likely Soon Change

FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer indicates that the boundary of the floodway shown above dates to 2008. Harris County Flood Control’s MAAPNext effort, however, is revising the flood maps. Floodways all over the county are expanding into the 100-year floodplain. So some or all of this detention pond could soon find itself within the floodway.

No Adverse Impact?

The Kingwood Cove engineers claim the detention pond would protect downstream residents in a 500-year storm, but the Harris County Flood Warning System shows, the pond would be under 9.5 feet of water in a 10-year storm. And 22 feet of water in a 500-year storm! I fail to see how the pond would be holding anything back in such situations.

Photo taken from helicopter on June 16, 2020 shows area in middle where Kingwood Cove detention pond would go. Looking SW.

A Grandfathering Play?

Note that Halff engineers submitted their Kingwood Cove drainage analysis on March 17, 2021, and the City implemented its .65 acre feet of detention per acre on March 31, 2021. Holley is just now seeking approval.

If he’s expecting to get a pass because he submitted the plans before a change in regulations, I would submit that we saw how dangerous that can be in the case of Woodridge Village and Elm Grove. Woodridge Village engineers calculated detention requirements based on pre-Atlas 14 data and got it grandfathered by MoCo even though everyone knew the requirements were changing.

There’s certainly lots to think about in these plans. They deserve more close scrutiny.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/27/2021 based on documents downloaded from the City Planning Commission website.

1490 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.

January Digest of Flood-Related News in Lake Houston Area

From construction developments to political developments, here’s your January digest of ten stories that could affect flooding or flood mitigation in the Lake Houston Area.

1. New Caney ISD High School #3

This site is located between Sorters-McClellan Road and US59 south of the HCA Kingwood Medical Center. New Caney ISD is building a new high school on the site of the old par 3 golf course behind the car dealerships that front US59. Construction crews are still pouring concrete for foundations and parking lots. Not much happened between flyovers on December 7 and January 1. But then, not much happens anywhere during the holidays. The two photos below show the progress. Construction of the detention pond is nearing completion. However, contractors still need to plant grass to reduce erosion before spring rains arrive.

New Caney ISD High School #3 site as of December 7, 2020
As of January 1, 2021.

New Caney ISD has not posted a project update since last September. Projected occupancy for the building is still Fall 2022.

2. Kingwood Cove Golf Course Redevelopment

I first talked about Ron Holley’s redevelopment of the Kingwood Cove (formerly Forest Cove) Golf Course in April last year. Since then Holley says he has been working with engineers, community groups and regulators to accommodate different interests.

Now, the development is back on the planning commission agenda for this Thursday. Holley is seeking approval of his latest General Plan and Plat. Neither show any detention ponds. The only place they could go would be in “Reserve C.” The General Plan shows that to be in the floodway and 100-year floodplain. Both could soon expand.

The West Fork floodway cuts through the southern part of Holley’s property.

The City raised an issue regarding compliance with regulations governing the re-plat of golf courses at the 12/17/2020 Planning Commission meeting. The City requested information relating to Local Government Code 212.0155.

That regulation requires, among other things, that:

  • Public notice of the re-plat be printed in newspapers
  • The Forest Cove Property Owners Association is notified
  • Residents have an opportunity to voice their opinions at public hearings
  • Owners of all properties within 200 feet of the new plat be notified in writing via US Mail.
  • If 20% of the owners object, the re-plat must win the approval of 3/5ths of the planning commission.
  • The developer proves there is adequate existing or planned infrastructure to support the new development.
  • The new subdivision will not adversely affect health, safety traffic, parking, drainage, water, sewer, or other utilities
  • The development will not have a materially adverse effect on existing single-family property values.
  • The new plat complies with all applicable land-use regulations and restrictive covenants and the City’s land-use policies.

That’s a lot to do over the holidays. So the general plan may need to be withdrawn and resubmitted after all the information has been produced. We should know more by Wednesday afternoon.

3. Dredging

Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s January newsletter stated that Disaster Recover Corporation has removed 385,000 cubic yards from the West Fork Mouth Bar out of an estimated total of 400,000 cubic yards.

Then he alluded to dredging another 260,000 cubic yards from the area north of the mouth bar.

He also alluded to a Second Phase: dredging the San Jacinto East Fork and other locations in Lake Houston.

Finally, Martin discussed maintenance dredging. “Additionally,” he says, “during Phase Two of the project, City of Houston, Harris County, HCFCD, SJRA, and Coastal Water Authority (CWA) will develop and execute a plan for the City of Houston or CWA to assume long-term dredging operations on Lake Houston. This effort will include determining funding for dredging operations in perpetuity.”

4. Appointments to SJRA Board

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Wil Faubel and Rick Mora, M.D. and reappointed Kaaren Cambio to the San Jacinto River Authority Board of Directors. Their terms will expire on October 16, 2025. 

Kaaren Cambio of Kingwood is a field representative for United States Congressman Dan Crenshaw. She is a former member of Women’s Business Enterprise National Investment Recovery Association, Pipeline Contractors Association, and the Houston Pipeliners Association. Cambio received a Bachelor of Business Administration from San Diego State University.

Wil Faubel of Montgomery is President of Borets US Inc. He is a veteran and senior executive in the Oilfield Services industry with more than forty years of service. He has both domestic and international experience and is a lifelong member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and a former board member of the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association. Faubel received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Southern Methodist University.

Rick Mora, M.D. of The Woodlands is a partner at US Anesthesia Partners and Chief of Anesthesiology for Memorial Hermann Pinecoft Surgery Center. He has served as chair of the Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is a founding Board member of the non-profit, Los Doctores de The Woodlands. Mora received his MD from the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine.

5. Forest Cove Townhome Buyouts

Harris County Commissioner’s Court will vote today on an item to exercise eminent domain on seven townhomes in the Forest Cove complex. The entire complex was destroyed after Harvey and many owners simply walked away from their properties without leaving forwarding addresses. Flood Control has been unable to find the owners after years of trying. Several may have moved out of the country. Eminent domain on these last few properties will clear the way for demolition of the entire complex and restoration of the area to nature or park land.

The once proud and idyllic townhomes in Forest Cove next to West Fork.

6. Woodridge Village

The purchase of Woodridge Village from Perry Homes is not on today’s Commissioner’s Court Agenda. However, all energies are reportedly still positive. It’s just taking time to work out the complex three-way purchase arrangements.

7. Romerica

Houston PlatTracker shows that the Romerica people may have acquired more land. But so far, they have not returned to the planning commission for approval on the latest iteration of the developer’s plans. No news is good news in this case.

8. Lake Houston Spillway Improvement Project

The City is close to finalizing the Preliminary Engineering Plan. Sources say the benefit/cost ratio looks very positive. We may see the final recommendations this month.

Engineers have examined several alternatives to add more gates to the Lake Houston dam or to increase its spillway capacity.

9. Noxxe Cleanup

The Railroad Commission could start plugging wells, removing storage tanks, and cleaning up the abandoned Noxxe lease in Forest Cove soon. The project manager has submitted work orders for final approval.

Small part of Noxxe lease next to Forest Cove baseball fields.

10. Kings Harbor New Construction

New condos are going up in Kings Harbor faster than Flood Control can tear down the ones in Forest Cove down. And they’re even closer to the river!

See new concrete pads (left center) and new construction (right foreground).

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/5/2020

1125 Days after 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.

Development Watchlist: Perry, Romerica, Colony Ridge and More

Here’s an update to last week’s watchlist. It includes seven Lake Houston Area developments – four from last week and three new.

Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village

On April 28, 2020, Harris County Commissioners approved the purchase of Woodridge Village from Perry Homes with two conditions: 1) that the City of Houston would defray half the cost by contributing $7mm worth of land that HCFCD needed for other flood control costs, 2) that the City would adopt new Atlas-14 rainfall statistics.

The next day, Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin discussed the deal on a Facebook live “virtual lunch” with the Lake Houston Area Chamber. At about 26:20 into the video, he said that the stipulations had already been agreed to. He said the City had already identified 11 pieces of property, 6 of which were presented to the County during its consideration of the deal in executive session the previous night. He also said the City would divert water from Taylor Gully to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and build a barrier between Elm Grove and Woodridge, while the county built a regional detention facility.

Perry contractors went back to work the next day before Martin spoke. They continued working all week. They worked near Mace in Porter, on N2 (the large detention pond in the middle of the western border), and N3 (another detention pond on the eastern border).

A reliable source who needs to remain anonymous told me that the work was at the request of Perry’s lawyers. The source said that Perry and its contractors were simply complying with their contract.

This week marks the anniversary of the first storm (May 7th) that landed Perry in hot water. And forecasters predict an above-average hurricane season, which starts in four weeks. The lawyers may have had that on their minds, too. As they say in legal circles, “The third time is the pen.” Woodridge contributed to flooding Elm Grove twice last year, in May and September.

Excavator working near Mace in Porter on April 29, 2020.

Romerica’s “Orchard Seeded Ranches”

This is the 331-acre project formerly known as the Heron’s Kingwood. It wound around the Barrington and River Grove Park. Romerica is now trying to develop the same land under a different name, “Orchard Seeded Ranches.”

However, on Thursday, 4/30/2020, the Houston Planning Commission deferred approval of the developer’s General Plan.

plat of orchard seeded ranches
General Plan of Orchard Seeded Ranches in Kingwood Texas

The Commission then asked the developer to consult with the City Engineer; the Planning and Development Department; and Harris County Flood Control before bringing further requests back to the Commission.

That should send a strong signal to the developer that rough waters lie ahead. Any proposal will likely be debated publicly when/if the developer returns.

The development is still listed in CoH’s PlatTracker. So we will continue to watch this one.

Holley’s Kingwood Cove Golf Course Redevelopment

A review of the City of Houston’s PlatTracker Plus Map indicates that Holley has not yet applied for any permits on the golf course in Forest Cove. City of Houston confirmed that via a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act).

Note how golf course on left is unshaded. That indicates no activity with the Planning Commission. Compare that to the purple area on the right for Romerica’s property. That indicates approval of a General Plan is still pending.

A review of the Harris County Appraisal District website indicates a limited liability company in Pittsburgh, PA, actually owns the golf course.

Harris County Appraisal District info for property at 805 Hamblen, aka Kingwood Cove Golf Course.

It’s not unusual for developers to use other people’s money. I shall continue to watch this. Holley says his engineer is reworking plans based on input from people surrounding the course.

Ryko Property Near Confluence of Spring Creek and West Fork

This property is in Montgomery County and the City of Houston’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction. The Montgomery County Engineers office says the company has not yet filed any plans that have been approved. The City of Houston PlatTracker Plus Map also shows the owner has not yet filed any applications.

US FWS Wetlands Map shows wetlands throughout the Ryko property between Spring Creek and the West Fork.

New Caney ISD High School #3

Dark green area in center between Sorters Rd. and 59 is future home of New Caney ISD High School #3.

The New Caney Independed School District plans to build a third high school south of the HCA Kingwood Medical Center and behind the car dealerships that front US59. I don’t know much more about this except that they plan to extend roads into the area that is now forest. High schools usually have large parking lots. And that means rapid drainage. It is unclear at this time whether MoCo will require detention ponds.

Northpark Woods

Looking northwest at Northpark Woods from over Sorters/McClellan Road. The drainage ditch on the left parallels Northpark Drive. Sand mines and the West Fork are in the background. Photo 4/21/2020.

This high-density development along the West Fork San Jacinto River in Montgomery County is now about one-third to one-half built. Construction continues.

The Colonies in Plum Grove

North of SH99 in Plum Grove and east of the East Fork in Liberty County, lies one of the largest developments in the Houston region without detention ponds.

In January of 2017, the Houston Chronicle wrote about how La Colonia was transforming Plum Grove. They interviewed local residents who lamented the loss of forests. ABC13 ran a story about the squalid living conditions. Yet the area continues to expand.

Formally known as Colony Ridge, some locals call it “The Colonies.” Colony Ridge bills itself as a “master-planned” community with six major subdivisions: Sante Fe, Camino Real, Grand San Jacinto, Rancho San Vincente, Montebello, and Bella Vista. Together they comprise 30,478 lots on approximately 10,000 acres at present. And they’re still growing!

The Colonies currently cover an area almost as large as Kingwood. Photo 4/21/2020.
Drainage empties into the East Fork San Jacinto. While flying over the area, I did not see one detention pond.
 Mobil homes make up most of the housing stock. Note open-ditch drainage.

Colony Ridge advertises itself as “an escape from the city, land on which to grow and build a home, no restrictions and easy credit.” Aerial photos reveal people scratching out hardscrabble lives on barren lots.

This is a blue collar neighborhood. The developer says his target market is poor Latino laborers. They see this as a step up from apartment living and a chance to own a part of the American dream.

But while flying over it, I did not see one detention pond.

As SH99, the Grand Parkway, pushes east from 59, this area will boom. Without better drainage regulations, Liberty County and Plum Grove will heap their drainage problems on those downstream.

FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer shows East Fork Flood Plains relative to Colony Ridge (right).

The good news is that Liberty County has joined with seven other counties to form a Southeast Texas Drainage District. The bad news is that Harris County is not one of the seven.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/3/2020

978 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Ron Holley Describes His Vision for Forest Cove Golf-Course Development

In April 2019, Ron Holley, a major Kingwood developer, bought the Kingwood Cove Golf Course. Neighbors immediately started asking questions about how his plans could affect potential flooding. Forty-one Forest Cove residents flooded during Imelda last year. On 4/12 this year, Holley shared his vision for the property in a KPRC radio interview.

Description of Development

The developer says he purchased 110 acres. He will reserve 20 acres of that (18%) for detention. The remaining 90 acres, he says, are all above the 500-year floodplain. The lowest part of the property sits at 50 feet above sea level. That’s 7.5 feet above the average level of Lake Houston. However, he says the highest properties, those closest to Kingwood Drive, are at 90 feet.

Possible names for the development include Kingwood Heights and Holley Heights, to help offset the fear of flooding and communicate the location above the current 500 year floodplain.

Holley says he conducted environmental, wetland, and tree surveys on the property in the last year. He wants to preserve as many trees as possible. Lot sizes will range from half- to 1+ acres.

USGS Shows No Wetlands Issues for Property

USGS shows no wetlands on the Kingwood Cove Golf Course, though it does show two ponds.

FEMA Shows Narrow 500-year Flood Zone

In the map below, the cross-hatched area represents the floodway. The aqua colored area represents the 100-year floodplain and the brown area the 500-year floodplain. The narrowness of the 500-year band indicates a steep slope. In fact, the land rises sharply from a low river terrace to a higher terrace in that transition zone.

FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer View shows only the extreme lower portion of the course in flood hazard areas.

Timing of Development

Holley says people could start building homes on the old course early next year. However, he did not say whether the property was permitted yet.

Other local subdivisions developed by Holley include: Kings Harbor, Deer Ridge Estates, Kings Lake Estates, and Summer Lake Ranch. Holley has developed land in the Kingwood area since 1992.

Is Drainage Sufficient?

Mr. Holley did say that 41 Forest Cove homeowners flooded during Imelda last year. Based on their concerns, he said that he is increasing drainage. He declined to answer other questions until he gets “further along in the engineering.”

Many neighbors have expressed concerns about the loss of pervious cover to streets, driveways, rooftops, etc. If the land is going to be developed, low density makes the most sense. And one or two families per acre certainly is better than four to eight. We have seen many such higher-density developments upstream in Montgomery County. Take Northpark Woods, for instance. Many Montgomery County developments do not even require detention ponds.

This project resides both within the City of Houston and Harris County. I will continue to watch it as the engineering evolves.

Detention in Floodways Less Effective

About 4 acres of the 20 acres on the lower terrace sits in the floodway. One flood expert told me, “Generally, detention basins in the floodway aren’t as effective (compared to those in a floodplain) because they get full of water before they can be of much use during a flood event. A detention basin works where it can fill up and store water during a major flood event, basically an extension of the natural floodplain.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/14/2020

959 Days since Hurricane Harvey