Tag Archive for: missing reports

Silence: Liberty County, Colony Ridge, Landplan Engineering Remain Mute on Missing Documents

Wayne Dolcefino titles his latest video “The Sounds of Silence.” It’s about the Colony Ridge problems in Liberty County and the response of officials.

On December 26, 2020, I reported about missing drainage reports for the Colony Ridge development in Liberty County. The post also discussed the mischaracterization of soil types in the reports that did exist. The mischaracterization let the developer overestimate the infiltration of rain and thus underestimate runoff. That meant he needed fewer detention ponds and smaller ditches. And that, in turn, meant the developer could sell more lots. But then the flooding started. Coincidental?

Sounds of Silence

On January 4, 2021, Liberty County Attorney Matthew Poston launched an investigation.

But four months later, the documents are still missing. Without explanation.

Either they got lost or were never developed in the first place. And no one will defend or explain the soil sampling in the documents that were produced.

Neither will anyone talk about how large parts of Colony Ridge got approved by the County without the required engineering documents certifying “no negative effect” on drainage upstream or downstream from the development (see page 5). Note: Plum Grove Road has been washed out since Harvey and keeps getting worse. Neither will they talk about whether conditions at Colony Ridge comply with Liberty County regulations.

  • Jay Knight, the Liberty County Judge, won’t talk.
  • Greg Arthur, Liberty County Precinct 2 Commissioner, won’t talk.
  • David Douglass, the Liberty County Engineer, won’t talk.
  • Louis Bergman, the former Liberty County Engineer, won’t talk.
  • Trey Harris, the developer of Colony Ridge, won’t talk.
  • Earnest Bailes, Liberty County’s state rep won’t talk.
  • Phil Struble, CEO of Landplan Engineering, won’t talk.

Enter Wayne Dolcefino, Investigator Extraordinaire

Wayne Dolcefino, formerly one of the country’s foremost investigative journalists and now a private investigator for the Plum Grove City Council, picked up the scent of a coverup. And he’s running it to ground…all the way to the Liberty County Courthouse and the headquarters of Landplan Engineering in Kansas. Landplan served as the engineering company for the Colony Ridge developer.

Merry Christmas from Colony Ridge. Photographed December 7, 2020. On August 11, 2015, Trey Harris, Colony Ridge Developer, told Liberty County Commissioners he “would work with the County to assure his subdivisions were ones Liberty County could be proud of.” (See top Page 5).

Simon and Garfunkle’s 1965 hit The Sounds of Silence became the theme song for Dolcefino’s latest exposé. In the 13-minute video, Dolcefino asks officials difficult questions about persistent problems that have driven off half of tiny Plum Grove’s population in the last few years.

I never get tired of watching Dolcefino wave his microphone in front of people who walk away to avoid answering questions.

From Dolcefino’s latest video on Colony Ridge. Trey Harris turns his back to Dolcefino and walks away rather than answering questions.

For those who enjoy hard-hitting investigative journalism that speaks truth to power, this is a must-view video.

When it’s all over, you’ll ask yourself the biggest question of all: “Are these officials protecting the people who elected them or each other?”

We may soon find out. I interviewed Dolcefino this afternoon. He told me that his company, Dolcefino Consulting, is filing criminal complaints against State Representative Earnest Bailes and Commissioner Greg Arthur for failure to produce records requested under the Texas Public Information Act.

Keep your eye on this one. It has the potential to affect cozy relationships between developers and officials throughout the state.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/23/2021 based on a video by Wayne Dolcefino

1333 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.

Liberty County Launches Major Investigation into Colony Ridge Irregularities

Wayne Dolcefino announced this afternoon that Liberty County Judge Jay Knight has confirmed the county will launch a major investigation into the controversial Colony Ridge Development. Dolcefino is one of the country’s leading investigative journalists.

Flooding Concerns at Heart of Investigation

The massive housing development between the San Jacinto East Fork and Luce Bayou has sparked flooding concerns for tens of thousands of families both nearby in Plum Grove and downstream as far as Lake Houston.

The probe will focus on the accuracy of soil reports and drainage plans used to justify approval of the neighborhoods.

Wayne Dolcefino

Plum Grove hired Dolcefino to fight years of neglect by county officials as floods washed out roads and damaged most of the structures in the tiny town.

The investigation comes after a widening investigation by Dolcefino Consulting and one day after publication of a post in ReduceFlooding.com titled Flooding of the Fifth Kind: By Government Neglect.

“Right before the new year, two inches of rain in Colony Ridge produced flooding. Creeks in Plum Grove were full to the brim. That’s raising alarm bells,” said Dolcefino.

Pictures of flooded lots WITHIN Colony Ridge also raised alarms. They show that water is not soaking in or running off the way it should.

Flooded lot 24 hours after a 2 inches of rain in two days. Resident keeps throwing sand into the ponds, but it’s not helping much.
A newly developing portion of Colony Ridge.
Another newly developing portion of Colony Ridge. Much of the area has been carved out of wetlands. See USGS map below.
Note water surrounding the house.
New lot next to drainage ditch won’t even drain.
When water won’t soak in, people suffer.

Soil Types Are Key Issue

There is evidence to suggest that LandPlan Engineering mischaracterized the type of soil in its drainage plans for Colony Ridge. Their calculations assumed the soil had a high rate of infiltration when it actually had a low rate.

So instead of water soaking into the ground, it runs off. The presence of so many wetlands in Colony Ridge before development should have been a tipoff.

Most of the wetlands in Colony Ridge before development are gone now, but the problems remain. This USGS map shows where they were. Some areas just should not be developed.

By misrepresenting soil types, LandPlan Engineering understated the amount of detention and drainage capacity needed by 6X to 9X, according to TXDoT guidelines.

Had LandPlan properly represented the soil, Colony Ridge would have had to put in more detention ponds and widen ditches to prevent flooding. But that would have been costly for the developer.

Harris County Flood Control officials worry the drainage problems in Colony Ridge increase flood risk in Harris County. So do downstream residents. I talked to one in Harris County today who has flooded repeatedly since Colony Ridge started clearing land. She is disabled and can’t afford to move. Neither can she afford to stay.

Missing Reports Another Part of Investigation

Liberty County also admits that many of the drainage analysis reports – required by county ordinance – are missing. The county made the admission after Dolcefino Consulting filed formal requests to see the records used by former Liberty County engineer Louis Bergman to recommend approval of the large development.

Liberty County Attorney Matthew Poston confirmed to Dolcefino that 19 missing reports will be part of the investigation.

Hopefully, the investigation will also explain why virtually all the surviving reports are labeled “preliminary.” The county could not supply ReduceFlooding.com with any documents showing changes to or final approvals of the plans.

“We want to see what Bergman signed, and if the investigation proves claims about the soil are untrue that could be a big problem,” Dolcefino said. The former county engineer has refused comment.

His daughter is the new District Attorney for Liberty County. One can only hope that she recuses herself from any part of this investigation.

If damning evidence exists in reports the county DID supply, one can only imagine what’s in those the County can’t or won’t produce.

How the Other Half Lives

Colony Ridge developers “owner financed” many of the lots in the sprawling neighborhood, in part, because many residents do not have driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers. Nearly 97 percent of the foreclosures in Liberty County last year came from Colony Ridge.

Said Dolcefino, “This is the first step in holding Liberty County officials accountable before another neighborhood is approved. We need to know why these documents are missing, and we are going to get to the bottom of this one way or the other.” I second that.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/4/2021 based in part on information from Wayne Dolcefino

1224 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.