Tag Archive for: Laurel Springs RV Park

Laurel Springs RV Resort Update: Mysterious Black Spots and Other News

In the two weeks since I last posted about the “RV Resort” under construction on Laurel Springs Lane, a lot has happened. Among other things, I’ve noticed contractors repeatedly covering up black spots in the detention pond that have a habit of mysteriously reappearing.

Mysterious Black Spots Keep Reappearing

Photo taken 3/5/22. Note difference of color in puddles just inches from each other.
Wide shot also taken on 3/5 shows bulldozer filling in one black area while another leaks into pond. Note streak in water and see below.
Also taken 3/5. Pond was being manually pumped into Lakewood Cove Storm sewer system and thence into Lake Houston. The pumping explains the streak.
On 3/10/22, I noted these black areas at the western end of the pond emerging from freshly bulldozed areas.
Photo taken 3/11. The situation was worse and the bulldozers were back.
On 3/14, the floor of the detention pond had been smoothed out, but the black spots were making another embarrassing comeback.
Close up of same spot taken on 3/15.

I have dozens of other shots that show similar patterns. But you get the idea.

I asked the Railroad Commission if they could identify oil seepage from photos. The answer was no. But they did send an investigator out. Unfortunately, he arrived after everything had been covered up.

The contractor acknowledged the black spots, but claimed they were just seepage from rotting mulch. But why would a contractor place mulch below an area being excavated? That would just raise the level of the pond they were deepening. The mystery continues.

The Railroad Commission of Texas found no records of abandoned oil or gas wells on this property, although many are nearby.

As a show of good faith, I wish the developer would have an independent lab confirm what this stuff is now that it’s being pumped to a storm sewer system that feeds into Lake Houston.

Other Recent Activity

In other news:

  • The developer has removed hundreds of truckloads of debris from below the detention pond.
  • They have excavated material from the southern walls of the pond and moved it north. This effectively shifted the pond back onto the developer’s property while elevating other portions of the property.
  • Contractors erected posts for what appears will be a chain link fence at the southern edge of the resort.
  • Contractors have finished tying the detention pond into the Lakewood Cove Storm Sewer system.
  • They also installed more underground drainage throughout the property.

The photographs below illustrate the points above.

Photo taken 2/23/22 shows part of debris pulled up from south of detention pond. Also note the black spots in the detention pond.
Taken 3/16/22. Photo courtesy of reader. Used with permission. Note fence posts along left. These would appear to confirm the property boundary.
The detention pond intake valve in the foreground is now connected with the pump housings on higher ground. However, the pumps may not yet be installed. And the housing still looks sealed off. Photo taken 3/15/22.
Additional dirt is being brought in to raise the elevation of the site. Photo taken 3/13/22. Note water still ponding on site from a half inch of rain on 3/15. This soil is not as porous as the stormwater pollution prevention plan claims.
Rebar being laid for the next concrete pour on 3/14/22.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/16/22

1660 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.

RV Resort Contractor Cut Down Trees in County’s Edgewater Park

The contractors for the Laurel Springs RV Resort west of Lakewood Cove got a little overzealous with bulldozers. They killed up to 50 feet of mature trees in Harris County Precinct 4’s Edgewater Park along the entire property line. TCEQ and County inspectors visited the site last week and documented problems. According to one resident, the City also had inspectors there. Ever since, the contractors have been scrambling to correct problems, such as erosion, and to install pollution-prevention measures that should have been there months ago.

Mature Trees Hard to Replace

But some problems, like the trees will be hard to correct. It could take decades for newly planted trees to reach the height of the old ones.

It’s hard to say exactly how many square feet of trees were lost beyond the property. The distance varies along the southern perimeter of the RV site. But another resident and I, using a tape measure and eyeballs, estimated the damage extended into the park for up to 50 feet south of a surveyor’s stake at the southern property line. If the estimates are close, that would mean the contractor harvested almost an acre of County trees.

Attempts to Clean Up Site

Since a two-day shutdown after the discovery of contractors flooding Edgewater Park with silty stormwater, the construction site has bustled with activity. Some employees have continued laying pipe, spreading fill, and grading. Meanwhile, others try to fix problems pointed out by inspectors.

Yesterday, contractors tried to retrieve dirt that eroded into or was placed in Edgewater Park. Last night, they erected silt fence along most of the southern perimeter. The muck-retrieval team was still working this morning. The contractors created a new entrance with fresh bullrock. And they also placed silt filters in front of storm-sewer grates along Laurel Springs Lane.

Photos Show Extent of Tree Loss

The orange stake below represents the southernmost stake of the developer’s RV park. It lines up roughly with the southerns edge of the detention pond’s bank. Edgewater Park is to the left.

Photo taken yesterday, 2/11/22 from Laurel Springs Lane looking west. County’s Edgewater Park is left of stake.

The position of the orange stake in this wider shot lines up a little bit north of the left end of this traffic island in Laurel Springs Lane.

Note position of orange stake relative to tip of traffic island. Photo taken 2/11/2022.
Note where southern boundary would cross southern tip of traffic island on right – same place as in photo.
Note how far clearcut goes below southern tip of traffic island. Silt fence (placed last night) does not mark property boundary. It was placed where ground was dry enough to hold stakes, hence its irregular shape. Photo taken today, 2/12/22.
Photo taken 2/12/22. On the western edge of the property, the new silt fence lines up with the southern edge of the pond bank and a little bit north of the still-standing trees above the fence. Note the same trees in the first photo relative to the orange stake.

Had the silt fence been installed from the start of construction – as the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan said it should have been – perhaps contractors would not have cut down the trees.

Pipe Apparently Still Buried

After digging a trench in the southern wall of the pond to discharge silty stormwater into Edgewater Park at the top of the frame, contractors then buried a pipe to create a permanent conduit. They still have not removed it to my knowledge. I visit this site every day and would likely have noticed people working on that. But all I saw was some dirt placed in front of the inlet and outlet. If still embedded, leakage through the pipe could explain the continued presence of silty water below the pipe in the trees at the top of the frame.

Red line marks approximate path of pipe buried by contractors. Photo taken 2/12/22.

Sometimes trying to take shortcuts can cost you more money in the long run than you save. Developers and contractors often get away with things because neighbors rarely read plans and watch to make sure they are followed. The assumption is that regulators inspect these sites daily. They don’t. We just don’t have enough of them.

Tomorrow…details of the developer’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan filed with the TCEQ. You definitely don’t want to miss that one.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/12/2022

1628 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.

“Stormwater Runoff Shall Not Cross Property Line”

The construction plans approved by the City of Houston for the Laurel Springs RV Resort state that “Stormwater runoff shall not cross property line.” The memory of that warning did not last long.

Reminder about Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater Drainage Plan approved by City of Houston just three months ago. City stamped the red note in the middle of the detention pond below.

A reader emailed me this morning to alert me to the fact that the contractor was digging through the wall of the detention pond to drain it. Pumping the water over the edge evidently didn’t work fast enough.

Note trench being dug through wall of detention pond to empty stormwater runoff onto neighboring property – Harris County Precinct 4’s Edgewater Park on left.
On Saturday afternoon, 1/29/22, contractors were enlarging the breach to drain runoff faster.

The excavator seemed to be widening and deepening the ditch down to level of the pond bottom.

Was the timing of the excavation of this breach on a Saturday afternoon intentional to avoid City Inspectors? Will they fill this trench back in before Monday morning?

Just last week, contractors were pumping water out of the pond to empty it.

Ten-Year Rain in Hundred Year Pond

This pond was about half full of stormwater runoff after the ten-year rain Kingwood received on January 9.

It’s not clear whether the contractor received permission from the City or County to dig the trench that emptied the pond. Phone calls and emails went unanswered Saturday.

Regardless, it is upsetting to residents who have worried about plan deficiencies and possible flooding since last October when the plans were approved and clearing of the land began.

This pond was intended to be a dry bottom pond.

Construction Always Risky

There’s not much more to say about this. In fairness, construction is always difficult and risky. Wet conditions can create expensive delays that put tremendous pressure on all involved. And, of course, partially completed projects never fully function as intended.

Ironically, a close reading of drainage plans reveals that the contractor is supposed to be pumping the water into the COH storm sewer system. The plans also estimate that the draining the entire pond would take just 13 hours with two pumps. However, the connection to COH’s storm sewer has not yet been installed.

Note the construction activity in the top right corner of the last photo below. The contractor appears to be building up a wall around the planned pump cutoff station.

Where stormwater will be pumped into Lakewood Cove’s stormwater sewer system. See plans below.
From Laurel Springs RV Resort approved drainage plan. Plan shows contractor will pump contents of pond into Lakewood Cove storm drain system via a 24 inch pipe running under Lakewood Cove. From there, water will drain, downhill into Lakewood Cove’s detention pond near Hamblen Road.

Pray all that pumping doesn’t back stormwater runoff up into the streets of Lakewood Cove.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/29/2022

1614 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.

City Defends RV Park Permit Despite Deficiencies

The City of Houston defended its permitting of the Kingwood Area’s first RV Park despite deficiencies in the process. The City claims the Laurel Springs RV resort meets old “grandfathered” standards. But concerned Lakewood Cove residents worry that the development does not meet current needs. They expressed concerns that:

  • The developer filed false information
  • Is building a detention pond that will only hold half the volume of current requirements
  • Did not document the impact of overflow from that undersized pond in a two paragraph drainage impact analysis
  • Said that overflow from the undersized pond would be funneled toward Lakewood Cove despite a regulation requiring that excess stormwater not cross adjoining private property lines.
  • Is building 226 RV pads with a permit that allows 182.
  • The amount of impervious cover in the plans did not change despite the addition of 25 percent more spaces.
  • The volume of the detention pond decreased during the review process.
  • The plans were not reviewed by a professional engineer (PE).

Below, read a summary of the City’s responses to each of these alleged deficiencies. To verify my summary, I’ve also included a PDF of the City’s entire response.

Filed False Info

The City did not really address this concern except to say that false information was filed by an agent who had no hand in the engineering. Apparently, filing false information under penalty of perjury is not an issue if you hire an agent.

Half the Detention Volume of Current Requirements

Despite getting the plans approved in October 2021, after detention requirements increased, the developer only had to meet 2020 requirements under a grandfathering clause based on the submission date (not the approval date) of the plans. So plans comply with the old requirements but not the current ones. Despite building a half-sized detention pond, the City still insists overflow won’t be a problem – except in a 100-year storm. The City ignores the fact that the pond is designed to hold a 100-year rain under older, lower standards.

Several of the 380 Elm Grove homes that flooded on May 7, 2019, and a City High Water Rescue Vehicle.

This is the same problem that happened in Woodridge Village, Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest in 2019.

On May 7, 2019, Woodridge received 7.9 inches of rainfall – less than half of Atlas 14 expectations. Still 380 structures in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest flooded according to HCFCD.

In that case, the plans also met old requirements that had not increased to meet current rainfall expectations. The same Public Works Department that approved the drainage plans for Woodridge Village approved the Laurel Springs RV Resort plans.

Sketchy Drainage Impact Analysis

I’ve requested the full drainage impact analysis on three occasions. The City alludes to one, but still has not produced it. Instead, the City points to a two paragraph summary and seems satisfied with it. The City focuses primarily on the volume of water pumped into Lakewood Cove’s storm sewer system. It claims that if water overflows into people’s homes that will be due to a deficiency in how the Lakewood Cove lots were graded.

Where Will Overflow Go

The developer says that overflow from the undersized detention pond will go east toward Lakewood Cove (left in picture below) and then down a hill into Lakewood Cove’s detention pond near Hamblen Road. But the City says the opposite. It claims overflow will go west toward the Union Pacific railroad tracks (right in picture below). From there, sheet flow would go down into the County’s new Edgewater Park. The City did not express any concern about erosion of the track bed. But one wonders whether erosion could destabilize the railroad tracks which carry toxic chemicals.

Laurel Springs RV Resort next to UP Railroad tracks and Utility Easement. City says overflow from pond at far end of clearing will be funneled toward tracks, even though developer says the opposite.
Woodridge Village erosion caused by half of the estimated amount of a current 100-year rain.

Increase in RV Spaces

The developer changed the plans from 182 to 226 RV pads. The City approved with no further explanation. Nor did the City address the issue of a potential conflict with the permit.

No Increase in Impervious Cover

The City claims that when the number of spaces increased 25%, impervious cover did not and that calculations are still accurate. Public Works did not explain the apparent contradiction.

Decrease in Volume of Detention Pond

According to the City, the original detention-pond volume approved by the City must have been an “approximation” by the developer’s engineer. Even though the number decreased in final versions of the plans as the number of RV pads increased 25%, the City claims the developers still exceed the minimum detention requirements under the grandfathered 2020 regulations. They never address what will happen if rainfall exceeds 2020 assumptions, as it certainly will.

No Review by Professional Engineer

The City says reviewers work under the supervision of a professional engineer (PE), but PE’s do not actually review plans.


In summary, the City claims it didn’t make any mistakes. If homes flood, homeowners will be at fault because their sites must not be graded properly.

I wrote the City weeks ago about the potential erosion of the Union Pacific railroad tracks and still have not received a reply.

This seems to be a case of bureaucrats reviewing plans for literal compliance and ignoring the dangers of real-world deficiencies. If the higher requirements in 2021 regulations are not important, why did the City adopt them?

Here is the entire text of the letter sent by Lakewood Cove residents and the City’s responses, embedded in colored type.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/8/2021

1562 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.

Contractor Behind Kingwood’s First RV Park Has Six Tax Forfeitures In His Past

The primary contractor responsible for building the Kingwood area’s first RV Park has six tax forfeitures in his past. And the Secretary of State indicates that he has not filed public information reports (PIRs) associated with Texas franchise tax since 2019 for two more of his companies involved in developing the RV park. They are Higbie Ventures LP and Higbie Ventures of Texas, Inc.

The most recent PIRs on file with the Texas Secretary of State are dated April and September of 2019, more than two years ago.

Filing PIR reports is an annual requirement in Texas for business entities.

Below are the roles played by Higbie Ventures LP and Higbie Ventures of Texas, Inc. in the RV park next to Lakewood Cove.

Higbie Ventures LP Obtained COH Permits

Higbie Ventures LP obtained many, but not all, of the construction permits for the project from the City of Houston. They include permits for construction, clearing, grading, sitework, utilities, concrete and more. (For the full list, search by JOB ADDRESS on the Houston Permitting Center Website. Use 1355 LAUREL SPRINGS LN 77339).

Screen capture of sitework permit from City of Houston Permitting Center on 11/4/2021.

According to the Secretary of State’s database, Higbie Ventures, LP has not filed a PIR beyond 2019. Note also that the partnership previously forfeited its right to do business in Texas for seven years due to non-filing of reports (see below). However, it was later reinstated.

Note gap between 2009 and 2016. Screen capture from TX SOS Direct on 10/28/21.

I called the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) to confirm that the department’s records for Higbie were current. The lady I talked to said they were, but urged me to call the State Comptroller’s office to see if a new batch of updates was coming soon.

The State Controller’s office could not tell me when new updates were being sent to the Secretary of State. She also refused to discuss the company’s filing history except to say that their status was currently “active.”

The Comptroller’s office, however, did confirm that companies and partnerships had to file PIRs every year. No one could explain the contradiction between active status and apparent non-filing.

Higbie Ventures of Texas, Inc. the Primary Operator At Construction Site

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Stormwater Pollution Prevention Permit at the Laurel Springs RV Park construction site shows Higbie Ventures of Texas, Inc. as the primary operator of the construction site.

Permit posted on Construction Site as of 10/29/21.

Yet this company’s most recent PIR was filed in September 2019 according to the Secretary of State.

Screen Capture from Texas SOS Direct website on 10/30/2021 shows no reports filed for 2020 or 2021. Reports are due by May 15.

It’s unclear why Higbie or the owners needed more than one Higbie entity involved in this job.

13 Higbie Companies, Six Tax Forfeitures, One PO Box

Texas Secretary of State records show that William S. Higbie has started at least 13 companies or partnerships in Texas. Five are still active. They include:

  • Higbie Ventures, LP (formed 2003)
  • Higbie Ventures GP, LLC (formed 2003)
  • Higbie Ventures of Texas, Inc. (formed 2010)
  • Cherry Branch Enterprises LLC (formed 2006)
  • Higbie Residential Ventures of Texas, Inc. (formed 2014)

Higbie lost six in tax forfeitures and voluntarily dissolved two others. They include:

  • Higbie Builders GP, LLC (Tax Forfeiture 2006, later reinstated)
  • Zentrum Construction Company (Tax Forfeiture – 2007 )
  • WM-GP, Inc. (Tax Forfeiture –2007)
  • 1318 GP, Inc. (Tax Forfeiture – 2007)
  • 1318 Birdsall LTD (Tax Forfeiture – 2009)
  • Birdbath GP, Inc. (Tax Forfeiture – 2009)
  • Higbie Roth, Inc. (Voluntarily dissolved – 2002)
  • Higbie Roth Construction Company (Voluntarily Dissolved – 2013)

Higbie may have other business interests in Florida that are not shown here.

No Offices Currently Listed for Higbie

Eight of the 13 Higbie entities above are or were registered to PMB 1007 (Private Mail Box 1007) at 3733 Westheimer. Google Street View shows a Post & Parcel store there.

Higbie uses that same box for ALL of his active companies or partnerships in Texas.

This may indicate that none of Higbie’s Texas companies has a regular office.

Apparently, No Websites Either

At this time, Higbie does not appear to have a website of his own or for any of his ventures. I cannot find one.

A website called HigbiePlans.com DOES exist, but Higbie has no company by that name. Nor is one registered in the State of Texas.

A footnote on the HigbiePlans website says, “Online planroom powered by ReproConnect and Best Blue Print.” WhoIs.com shows that Best Blue Print actually owns the domain called “HigbiePlans.com.” To boost its own business, Best Blue Print appears to host websites like HigbiePlans as a courtesy to architects, builders, contractors, and others who may require prints of oversized files.

The HigbiePlans.com pages for Higbie Ventures shows one phone number that has been handed down from one Higbie company to another over the years, according to Google searches.

Very little information can be found about William S. Higbie or his organizations online.

Primary Operator?

The TCEQ permit posted at the RV park job site shows that Higbie Ventures of Texas, Inc. is the primary operator.

According to the TCEQ, a primary operator has operational control of a construction site. However, I have yet to see a Higbie logo on a truck out there. Or a Higbie logo anywhere!

Another company, A&M Contractors, appears to be doing the actual work which the TCEQ thinks Higbie is doing and which Higbie purchased the permits for.

Signs on construction equipment at the site show that A&M Contractors appears to be doing the work that Higbie’s companies obtained permits for.

While it is not unusual for companies in the construction business to hire subcontractors, it is unusual for an owner of a site to hire two (or three) companies to do the same thing. That runs up costs without adding value. And RV Parks are among the most cost-sensitive types of construction, according to developers I interviewed for this post.

Low Profile, High Failure Rates

I’m not alleging anything illegal or even unethical about Higbie or his organizations.

He just keeps an exceedingly low profile for a business man. And he has an exceedingly high failure rate. His Texas business ventures have failed at an alarming 62% rate.

Eight of his 13 entities in Texas have gone out of business, and six of the eight were lost to tax forfeitures.

In construction, when large dollars are at risk, that’s not the kind of track record that inspires confidence among lenders and investors.

Several Lakewood residents say they have tried to meet with Higbie about the RV park, but that Higbie doesn’t answer his phone. No wonder he’s so successful.

Will the real William S. Higbie please stand up?

Next, more on the owners of the RV Park. They operate more than 100 different companies.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/4/2021

1529 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.

In One Week, More Questions than Trees Remain at Site of First Kingwood RV Park

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.

At this point, the battle to save the trees is over. They will all disappear faster than you can say “injunction.”

The developer has executed a perfect blitzkrieg attack that would make Hitler jealous.

Below are pictures taken on Saturday, 10/30/2021.

Looking SSE. Lakewood Cove on left. UP tracks run from bottom to top on right.
Detention pond will go approximately where red box is.

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.

Location of land being cleared for new RV Park is in red. Land between the red and the river will become Harris County Precinct 4’s new Edgewater Park.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/30/2021 and revised on 10/31/2021 to include the “Location of Project” information immediately above.

1523 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.