Tag Archive for: Rebel Contractors

Porter Residents File Lawsuit Against Perry Homes, Its Subsidiaries, Contractors

In the continuing saga of the Woodridge Village fiasco, lawyers Jason Webster and Kimberley Spurlock have filed a new lawsuit on behalf of approximately 50 Porter residents who flooded on May 7th and/or September 19th in 2019. Webster and Spurlock previously filed lawsuits on behalf of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest residents who flooded on those same days.

Beating Statute of Limitations

Webster and Spurlock filed the new suit on May 5th, 2021. Normally, a two-year statute of limitations applies in such cases, according to one lawyer I talked to. So these plaintiffs just beat the deadline.

Documents filed yesterday with the District Clerk of Harris County make many of the same allegations made in the Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest flooding cases, with one crucial addition. These residents, who live on the west side of Woodridge Village, also claim that the defendants blocked drainage coming out of their neighborhoods, thus backing water up.

Contractors built Woodridge Village (right) up about 3 feet relative neighbors (left) without providing a path for water to drain. Note ponding water on left where plaintiff Chris Yates lives. Photo courtesy of Yates.

Legal Basis for Claims

Defendants allege that the proximate cause of flooding to their homes was an illegal impoundment of surface water caused by defective construction practices. They cite Section 11.086 of the Texas Water Code. It states that “No person may divert or impound the natural flow of surface waters in this state, or permit a diversion or impounding by him to continue, in a manner that damages the property of another by the overflow of the water diverted or impounded.”

In relation to the alleged “defective construction practices, plaintiffs claim “Negligence, Negligent Retention, Negligent Supervision, Negligence Per Se, and Gross Negligence for the May 7, 2019 floods.” Pages 14 and 15 of their complaint claim 34 separate failures.

Plaintiffs also claim Negligence, Negligence Per Se and Gross Negligence against the developer defendants for the September 19th flood. In regard to those claims, they list 29 separate failures relating to inadequate construction.

Plaintiffs further allege defendants created a nuisance and “trespassed” on their property. From a legal point of view, trespass includes “causing something to enter another’s property.” In this case, the something was water.

List of Defendants

Defendants in the lawsuit include the developers, engineering company and contractors. They include:

  • Perry Homes, LLC (developer)
  • Figure Four Partners, LTD (a Perry Subsidiary)
  • PSWA, Inc. (another Perry Subsidiary)
  • LJA Engineering Inc.
  • Rebel Contractors, Inc.
  • Double Oak Construction, Inc.
  • Texasite, LLC
  • Concourse Development, LLC

LJA Played Central Role

LJA played a central role in the flooding. Perry and its subsidiaries hired LJA to engineer the development and help supervise contractors to ensure they were working to plan. Plaintiffs allege LJA:

  • Failed to follow the correct drainage guidelines for Montgomery County
  • Failed to enforce the construction schedule
  • Failed to provide adequate drainage
  • Failed to adequately model the development
  • Removed drainage channels
  • Caused water elevations to increase downstream
  • Failed to design adequate detention ponds
  • Failed to use the correct hydrology method
  • Failed to design emergency overflows
  • Failed to comply with the soil report produced by Terracon Consultants, Inc.
  • Failed to protect water runoff from flooding Plaintiff’s homes
  • Violated the contractors duty and standard of care.

Plaintiffs Seeking Compensation For…

Plaintiffs seek compensation for damages including:

  • Cost of repairs
  • Cost of replacement or fair market value of personal property lost, damaged, or destroyed
  • Loss of use of personal property
  • Loss of income and business income
  • Consequential costs incurred such as hotel accommodations and replacement costs
  • Mental anguish and/or emotional distress
  • Prejudgment interest
  • Post judgment interest
  • Attorneys’ fees
  • Court costs
  • Exemplary and punitive damages

Finally, the plaintiffs seek a jury trial to decide issues of fact in the case.

For Text of the Full Case and Expert Witness Report

For the full 32-page complaint, click here.

For the 253-page certificate of merit in the case, click here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/6/2021

1346 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 595 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.

Only 23% of Woodridge Village Detention Ponds Now Functional

One month into the 2019 hurricane season, only about 23 percent of the Woodridge Village Detention Ponds have been substantially excavated and have outflow control devices installed. At the time of the May 7th Elm Grove flood, that percentage was only 9 percent. So in a little less than 2 months, Rebel Contractors has more than doubled the percentage completed. However, as we head toward the peak of hurricane season, approximately three quarters of the detention capacity remains unexcavated, dysfunctional, or both.

Contractors also have yet to finish grading, planting, and cementing portions of the ponds that they have excavated.

Only 2 of 5 Detention Ponds Substantially Excavated

The first phase of the 268-acre Woodridge Village shows a total of 4 detention ponds. But Rebel Contractors has excavated only two on the southern end so far: S1 and S2.

Together they provide a total of 49 acre-feet of storage. Pond N1 has not yet been excavated and Pond N2 does not yet have an outflow control device that will retain the water upstream from Elm Grove.

Detention for Phase 1 of Woodridge Village

In Phase 1, Pond N2, has no additional excavation. Existing excavation was done by Montgomery County starting in 2006. The county removed approximately 3-4 feet of dirt in a 20 acre area. Ultimately, N2 will be the largest pond in the development with 154.7 acre feet of detention. Note: the figures quoted below differ slightly from those I quoted earlier because LJA Engineers presents conflicting data in its Drainage Impact Analysis for Montgomery County. See pages 7 and 54.

Ultimate Detention for Woodridge Village from Page 7 of the document titled Report Addendum-2027-1002. N2 currently covers about 10 acres to a depth of 6-8 feet. However, it will be enlarged and deepened so that it holds 154.7 acre feet. That’s more than half of all the detention on the property.

Ultimately, the 5 ponds will have a total of 271 acre feet of storage. An acre foot covers one acre to a depth of one foot. So the five ponds will hold a little more than one foot of rainfall per acre of development.

Woodridge Village Detention by Pond in Ultimate Phase

That means, 12 inches of water should be able to fall on the entire development without flooding any adjoining properties. But with only 23% of detention functional (S2 – green, and S1 – blue), that 12 inches of detention is effectively reduced to 3 inches right now.

How Much is Functional and Where?

The bullet points and pie chart below summarize the total storage and current status of each pond as of July 1, 2019. The figures for acre-feet are taken from the map above representing the ultimate phase of development.

  • N1 = 13.2 acre feet (not started)
  • N2 = 154.7 acre feet (started by Montgomery County circa 2002, but is not fully excavated, nor is there any outflow control device installed to detain water upstream of Elm Grove)
  • N3 = 42 acre feet (does not appear to be started)
  • S1 = 18.6 acre feet (mostly functioning, but not fully finished)
  • S2 = 42.5 acre feet (mostly functioning, but not fully finished)
  • Total detention when complete = 271 acre feet
  • Total detention not functional as of July 1, 2019 = 77%

Photos and Video of S2 as of End of June 2019

Jeff Miller shot his video of S2, the pond immediately north of Village Springs in Elm Grove. It shows what progress looked like at the end of June. The pond has been widened by sloping the sides even more since the last update.

Video of Woodridge Village Detention Pond S2 shot from north of Village Springs in Elm Grove at end of June. Courtesy of Jeff Miller.
This shot, also by Jeff Miller, gives you a sense of the scale of the S2 detention pond. Remember, as large as it looks, it’s only designed to hold 16% of the runoff above it.
Taylor Gulley below the concrete box culvert that controls the outflow from S2 is becoming badly silted. Those openings are each supposed to be 10′ x 6′. They look far less than that right now because of the sediment.

N2 Will Contain More than Half of All Detention

Google Earth image showing the triangular shaped N2 detention area in March of 2011. This land was partially excavated by Montgomery County circa 2006-2012. The developer plans to widen and deepen it, but has not done so yet.
Google Earth image showing same area in February of 2019. According to MCAD-tx.org, Montgomery County still owns the triangular area that will become Detention Pond N2.
This is what N2 looked like at the end of May. It had not changed since the May 7th flood.
N2 from the reverse angle looking south on 7/1/19. Still no appreciable change.

N1 – Still No Excavation

This is where the N1 detention pond should be on the north section near the Webb Street entrance. No excavation in sight.

N3 – Still No Excavation Visible

Likewise, no excavation is visible near where the N3 pond should be.

Much More to Come Per Hydrologist’s Report

In Phase 1, Figure Four, a subsidiary of PSWA and Perry Homes, will develop 30 acres in the northern section and 58 acres in southern section. Ponds N1, S1 and S2 are to be built during this phase.

The hydrologist notes that a portion of N2 is already in place (although there is nothing there yet to detain the water upstream from Elm Grove). She also notes that:

  • N2 will be widened during the Ultimate phase
  • A pilot channel within N2 and  the E-W channel immediately downstream will be graded during Phase 1 to provide flow-line continuity with other proposed structures.
  • A concrete lined channel on the eastern side of the subdivision will be extended 150′ between the E-W junction and a 36″ plastic pipe.

Much work remains before their tables and charts on water flow can be used.

Remember, per their own report, the larger portion of Woodridge Village is in the north. It comprises two thirds of the development and the ground there slopes 10 times greater than the southern portion. (1 degree vs.  0.1 degrees).

The Woods are Gone, But We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet

As Elm Grove resident Jeff Miller said, “It sure seems to me that once they clear cut the north, that the potential for flooding rose exponentially.”

Let’s see!

  • More clear-cut area.
  • No functional detention.
  • Sloping toward Elm Grove.
  • And only one fourth of the total detention installed on the southern section.

I would agree.

As we approach the second anniversary of Harvey in 7 weeks, everybody on the periphery of this development is on edge…no pun intended.

Montgomery County needs development rules that protect neighbors from such development practices.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/1/19 with help from Jeff Miller

671 Days since Hurricane Harvey

All thoughts expressed in this post are matters of opinion and safety involving public policy. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

More than 40 Additional Plaintiffs Join Webster, Spurlock Lawsuits Against Woodridge Developers and Contractor for May 7th Flooding

Jason Webster and Kimberly Spurlock, two local lawyers, have teamed up to represent Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest (NKF) flood victims. On May 7th, video captured floodwater streaming out of the 268-acre site north and west of those two subdivisions. The contractor had already clearcut most of the land for the developer’s new Woodridge Village. However, the contractor had not yet excavated the key detention pond next to the people who flooded. As a result, it appears that runoff from the mostly clay soils in the new development compounded street flooding already in progress. That’s when the volume of water became more than the streets could handle and hundreds of homes flooded.

Third Wave of Lawsuits Filed Last Week

The third wave of lawsuits filed by Webster and Spurlock against defendants Figure Four Partners, LTD; PSWA, Inc.; and Rebel Contractors, Inc. brings the total of plaintiffs they represent to more than 200.

This is not a class action suit. Each plaintiff suffered different amounts of damage. It is a series of individual lawsuits. Here is the first wave of plaintiffs, the second, the third and the basis for the claims.

The lawsuits allege negligence, negligence per se, gross negligence, nuisance, and violation of Section 11.086 of the Texas Water Code. Plaintiffs seek exemplary damages and a permanent injunction among other things.

Figure Four and LJA Engineering Response

A statement by Figure Four Partners, LTD, claims the flood was an act of God and that many of the detention ponds were already complete. However, LJA Engineering, which had been hired by Figure Four to design drainage for the new development, later said that none of the detention ponds was complete. One one was fully excavated, but not yet completed, they said.

Natural Drainage Filled Near Highest Concentration of Flooded Homes

Only about 1% of the homes in Kingwood flooded on May 7th. Of those, almost all were adjacent to the land that Figure Four and Rebel Contractors clearcut. They also sloped the land toward the flooded homes – without first excavating critical detention ponds needed to prevent flooding.

New development slopes toward Elm Grove on right.

According to numerous residents, the contractor also filled in existing streams and wetlands while grading the property. Partially as a result, homes that never flooded before suddenly flooded during what Harris County meteorologist Jeff Lindner characterized as a 2-year to 50-year rain event. Plans show that if the detention ponds had been constructed, they should have held a 100-year rain.

Next Steps in Lawsuits

District court record searches indicate that no other law firm has yet filed suit against these defendants for the Elm Grove and NKF flooding. However, they may. At least two other law firms have held meetings with residents.

Meanwhile, the court has scheduled oral arguments for the temporary injunction against Figure Four Partners, LTD; PSWA, Inc.; and Rebel Contractors for July 8 at 2:30 PM in the 11th Judicial District Court. This is for the second batch of plaintiffs.

Previous Problems Surface for Rebel Contractors

A search of Harris County District Court records found a separate lawsuit against Rebel Contractors for a different incident. Harris County and the State of Texas (on behalf of the TCEQ) sued the company for its practice of burning trees while clearing land. The plaintiffs claimed the practice added to air pollution and harmed health. The County and State won an injunction against Rebel Contractors. Rebel agreed to stop its burning.

“Rainxiety” Sets In

A new term is floating around: rainxiety. That’s the anxiety flood victims feel whenever rain is forecast. Dozens of residents have told me that they sweat, their hearts race, and they begin to panic whenever it rains. One even begins humming Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” That should become the theme song for Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest.

“Still the rain kept pourin’,
Fallin’ on my ears.
And I wonder, Still I wonder
Who’ll stop the rain.”
By John Fogarty

All 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.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/29/2019 with help from Jeff Miller

638 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Key Woodridge Detention Pond Missing, Only Small Percent of Total Detention Developed Before Elm Grove Flooded

On the plans, LJA Engineers calls it S2 – the second detention pond in the southern portion of the new Woodridge development north of Elm Grove. Even though all drainage on the 268 clearcut acres slopes toward S2, the developer did not start building this crucial pond before the May 7 storm that flooded Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. The pond will ultimately hold 49.4 acre feet of water during a storm, but holds something less now because Rebel Contractors has not yet fully excavated it. Further, it appears that less than 10% of the site’s required detention was fully excavated when May storms struck.

Rebel Contractors Starts Expanding S2 After Flood

At the time of the May 7 flood, it appears that Rebel Contractors had not yet begun excavating the largest part of S2. I could see only a ditch connecting S1 with the large box culvert at the entry to Taylor Gully.

Photo taken on May 11, four days after Elm Grove Flood, shows extent of excavation for crucial S2 detention pond. Only this ditch connected S1 pond with Taylor Gully. Photo looks northeast, where giant pond should extend almost to tree line on both sides of image.

In the last seven days, however, Rebel has roughed out the pond. You can see it starting to assume its final shape, though it has not yet reached its final size or depth. See pictures below.

On Friday, May 24, I observed a steady parade of haulers moving earth from the future detention pond, S2. The contractor is using the excavated material to raise the height of streets and home pads elsewhere on the property in a process called “cut and fill.”

According to numerous residents that I have talked to, much of this area once consisted of wetlands. To develop such property, contractors use a process called “cut and fill.” They build up one area, by excavating another.

S2 pond in early stages of development. Plans show this should ultimately cover more than three acres and be 15 feet deep. Photo taken 5/25/19 looking west from Taylor Gully toward Woodland Hills Drive.
Plans for Woodridge Village show five detention ponds. Before the May 7 storm, it appears that only S1 was in place though even it was not finished. This raises the question, “Why did the developer focus on clearcutting the northern section before finishing crucial detention ponds on the southern section, where all the water from the north would flow?”

Only S1 Pond Fully Excavated at Time of Storm

Houston City Council Member Dave Martin investigating job site shortly after the May 7 flood on May 9. Shown here: The area that will become detention pond S1. It appeared to be the only semi-functioning detention pond on the entire 268 acres. This photo shows it almost fully excavated but not fully finished. Contractor will eventually slope right side to create more detention capacity and vegetate both sides to reduce erosion.

91% of Detention Capacity Not Completed at Time of Storm

Ultimately, the 268 acre site should hold five detention ponds with a total of 292.3 acre feet of storage. An acre foot would cover one acre to a depth of one foot. The bullet points below summarize the total storage of each pond in the map above.

  • N1 = 16.9 acre feet (not started)
  • N2 = 143.3 acre feet (started, but does not appear complete)
  • N3 = 56.4 acre feet (does not appear to be started)
  • S1 = 26.3 acre feet (mostly functioning, but not finished)
  • S2 = 49.4 acre feet (not exacted at time of May 7 storm)
  • Total = 292.3 acre feet
  • Not Started or Incomplete on May 7 = 91%
People in construction often use the term “substantially complete” to mean functional, but not fully finished.

The developer, Figure Four Partners, LTD, a subsidiary of Perry Homes and PSWA, Inc., issued a statement after the flood claiming that: “… many of the detention ponds are COMPLETE.” (Emphasis added.) Many appears to be 1 out of 5. And not even that one appeared complete. Complete, as their own engineer LJA pointed out, would have entailed sloping the sides and planting vegetation. See photo above; not even S1 was fully complete at the time of the flood.

The Figure Four Partners statement also claimed they had “improved drainage to the area that did not previously exist.” Residents say their contractor filled in existing streams on the property. Yet residents that did NOT flood during Harvey DID FLOOD after the so-called “improvements.”

How Detention Ponds Work

Detention ponds collect runoff during a heavy rain. Then they release it at a slow, controlled rate that drainage ditches like Taylor Gully can handle without flooding people downstream. That’s the theory anyway. They do this by restricting the outflow compared to inflow. However, to function, they have to be BUILT.

How Much Rain Detention Ponds Should Have Held vs How Much Fell

Had all five ponds been complete on May 7, the entire site should have detained 1.1 feet of rain, a little more than 13 inches. However, we received less than 8 inches.

Jeff Lindner, the Harris County meteorologist, issued a statement on May 13 summarizing the storm that flooded Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. In it, he said, “A 30-min rate of 2.9 inches was recorded at US 59 and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and a 1 hour rate of 4.0 inches. A 6-hr rainfall rate of 7.9 inches was recorded at the East Fork of the San Jacinto River and FM 1485. Rainfall rates between the 15-min and 6-hr time periods on Tuesday afternoon and evening averaged between a 2-yr and 50-yr frequency over the extreme northeast portions of Harris into southeast Montgomery Counties.”

Questions Owners and Contractors Need to Answer

In the last four years, we received three so-called 500-year storms. Two happened in the spring.

  • Knowing that, why did Rebel Contractors wait six months after clearing to begin excavating S2, the detention pond adjacent to areas that flooded?
  • Why did Rebel grade the rest of the site to funnel water toward Elm Grove before detention was in place?
  • Did economics factors push Rebel Contractors to clearcut the entire site before constructing detention that could control the runoff?
  • Why did Rebel Contractors fill in existing drainage features that could have helped reduce flooding before starting work on S2?
  • Why did Figure Four Partners claim that many of the detention ponds were complete?
  • If Figure Four improved drainage, why did homes flood that never flooded before?
  • Silt fences were supposed to be put up before any land was cleared. However, they were not put up until AFTER the flood on May 7. Why?
  • The plans required an onsite engineer to ensure compliance with permit provisions. Who was that engineer? How could he/she have possibly missed glaring deficiencies?
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Permits were supposed to be posted at all job site entrances. They were not. Why? And why did the contractor put them up the day before LJA Engineers inspected the site for Montgomery County and the TCEQ?

I hope I live long enough to learn the answers! I hope officials care enough to look for the answers! Tens of thousands of Kingwood homes did NOT flood during the May 7th storm; 196 homes next to this development did. They deserve answers.

All thoughts in this post are 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.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/26/2019

635 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Contractor Not Executing All Requirements in Approved Woodridge Plans

A review of construction plans for detention ponds and other site work in the troubled Woodridge Village subdivision revealed several deficiencies in the contractor’s performance to date. These deficiencies contributed to the widespread flooding on May 7 in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. They have also affected life in those and other neighboring communities for months.

The plans submitted by LJA Engineers for Job #2027-1100L are dated July, 2018. Both the City of Houston and Montgomery County approved them. The plans specify responsibilities for Rebel Contractors.

Deficiencies include, but are not limited to, inadequate detention, poor drainage, missing silt fencing, not displaying permits, failure to repair damage to streets, and lack of supervision.

Missing Silt Fencing

Let’s start with a pretty standard one: silt fencing. Their purpose is to control runoff that carries silt into streets and sewers. The objective: avoid clogged storm drains that can exacerbate flooding and require expensive remediation.

The law requires contractors to erect silt fencing BEFORE they even clear the land. The contractor completed clearcutting the land adjacent to Elm Grove last November. But when I visited the job site on May 9 of this year – six months later – I could see no silt fencing…anywhere.

Image taken on 5/9/19 at north end of Village Springs Drive in Elm Grove. Note lack of silt fencing and presence of clay and silt in street.

On May 16, one day after the LJA site inspection, I took this picture.

Silt fence installed AFTER flood.

Page 6, Point #5 says, “Contractor must inspect all structural controls at a minimum once every seven days and within 24 hours after a storm event that meets or exceeds .5 inches per 24 hour period.” Structural controls would include the silt fencing that wasn’t installed for 6 months.

Does it really make a difference? Look at the water quality in these two pictures taken by Jeff Miller in front of his home in Elm Grove.

Water in street in front of Jeff Miller’s house in Elm Grove during Harvey, BEFORE Rebel Contractors clearcut the area to the north.
Water in same street on May 7 after clearcutting adjacent area. No silt fences were installed.

Says Miller, the homeowner who took the pictures above, “Certainly in addition to suspended solids, there were also dissolved chemicals and biological materials (eg., diatoms) swept into Taylor Gully and our drinking water.” Miller is a retired project manager for a large pharmaceutical company and knows about the importance of avoiding contamination.

Missing or Inadequate Supervision

Several pages in the plans, including the cover page, specify that a professional engineer must monitor construction to ensure compliance with construction plans and specifications. If that person was doing his/her job, how could he/she possibly miss the lack of silt fencing…which is also specified on numerous pages? You should have to climb over it to get into the site!

Inadequate Drainage

Page 2, Column 1, Point #3 states, “Contractor shall be responsible for damages to existing water, wastewater, and storm drainage lines.” According to residents and maps available on the Montgomery County Appraisal District web site, the contractor filled in existing drainage before Elm Grove flooded; it never had before.

Also on Page 2, Column 1, Point #5 states, “Adequate drainage shall be maintained at all times during construction and any drainage ditch or structure disturbed during construction shall be restored to existing conditions or better.” Again, the contractor filled in existing drainage, did not restore it, and Elm Grove flooded. The contractor also worked on the site for six months without installing the main detention pond in the area to where all water was draining. After the flood, it took them only a day or so to excavate most of the pond. Why wait so long?

Here’s where it should have gone.

Detention pond in red circle just above flooded homes was not in place before flood. Yet all the drainage for 268 acres exited the site through here. See photos below.
Image taken on 5/12/19, five days after storm by Bob Rehak shows detention pond S2 has not yet been excavated.
Four days later, photo by Jeff Miller on 5/16/19 shows S2 pond being excavated. Pond still has not reached required depth of 15 feet. Representative of LJA Engineers did not recall seeing the excavation during their site inspection on May 15.

Street Damage

Page 2, Column 1, Point #8 states, “Any damage to any of the existing pavement and/or utilities must be repaired immediately. The contractor must notify the appropriate utility owner who will make the repairs at the contractor’s expense.” People in Porter have been complaining for months about how heavy construction traffic has crumbled their asphalt streets.

Heavy truck about to turn left into Webb Street construction entrance. Photo by Bob Rehak.
Damage to Web Street from construction traffic. Pile of dirt was dumped there by contractor. Photo by Bob Rehak.

Keeping Pipe Free of Dirt

Page 2, Column 1, Point #15 states, “All pipe and reinforcement steel shall be kept free of dirt and other debris. Any damage to the coating of the various materials must be repaired.” See image below. Nuff said.

Taken from Woodland Hills Drive on May 8, 2019

Maintaining Adequate and Positive Drainage at All Times

Page 2, Column 1, Point #16 says, “Contractor shall be responsible for maintaining adequate and positive drainage at all times during construction of proposed facilities.” If the adequate part was true, Edy Cogdill could not have shot this video of water pouring out of the construction site and flooding Village Springs Drive.

It is also unlikely that the high water rescue vehicle below would have been necessary on May 7.

Houston Fire Department High Water Rescue Truck during May 7 flood in Elm Grove.

No Traffic Controls

Page 2, Column 4, Point #1 under Traffic Notes states, “Contractor shall provide and install traffic control devices in conformance with Part VI of the Texas Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.” No traffic control devices are installed anywhere around the site as of this writing, yet construction machinery barges right out into traffic, as this equipment did in front of me. With one way in and out of this neighborhood, residents complain that they have had to wait up to half an hour while large equipment gets stuck in ditches.

Residents complain that equipment frequently blocks traffic. I witnessed this personally.

Page 6, Point #10 says, “Contractor is responsible for cleaning mud and or dirt tracked onto existing streets, by his workman’s, contractor’s or suppliers’ vehicles. Street must be cleared within 24 hours of when the tracking occurs.” Above, I caught the contractor dumping dirt on the street, in a feeble attempt to shore up the shoulder to widen the turning radius. The contractor succeeded only in further destroying the street. He should have widened his own driveway instead.

Complying with Environmental Laws

Page 6, Point #3 states, “Contractor will be responsible for complying with all environmental laws.” One such law stipulates that the contractor isn’t supposed to let silty water leave the site; hence the discussion of silt fences above. Another states that they must post their Stormwater Pollution Prevention Permits at site entrances. I looked high and low for those without success for the week after the flood. Then suddenly on May 16, I saw this posted.

Photographed on May 16, 2019, this should have been posted from the start of construction.

Such notices enable residents to file complaints when they notice violations. Not posting the notice makes it difficult to know where to complain or about whom to complain. If you have seen other suspicious activities you wish to report, here’s all about Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans. They’re supposed to be monitored by the TCEQ.

But in this case, the TCEQ turfed the investigation to LJA Engineering, which was paid by both the developer (to plan the site) and Montgomery County (to inspect permit compliance).

I could go on and on. (Actually, I’m just getting warmed up.) There are 26 pages of plans relating to the detention and drainage. Download them for yourself and let me know what else you find.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/23/2019 with help from Jeff Miller, Gretchen Dunlap-Smith and Abel Vera

632 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Caught On Camera: Woodridge Contractor Dumping on Neighbor’s Property

On Thursday, May 16, I photographed a contractor for a subsidiary of Perry Homes dumping dirt, mulch and sticks in a neighbor’s drainage ditch.

I was investigating flooding around the edges of a new development called Woodridge Village in Montgomery County just north of the Harris County line. The developer, Figure Four Partners (a subsidiary of PSWA and Perry Homes), has hired Rebel Contractors to clear and grade approximately 268 acres of land north of Elm Grove Village in Kingwood.

Hundreds of nearby homes that never flooded before flooded during heavy rains on May 7. It appears that something happened during the clearing and grading to change drainage.

At least four lawyers have discussed filing suits on behalf of neighbors against Figure Four Partners and Rebel Contractors. The Webster and Spurlock law firms alone initially filed suits earlier this week on behalf of approximately 100 plaintiffs and added approximately 80 more by the end of the week. So you would think the defendants would be on their best behavior. But never underestimate the chutzpah of men who drive bulldozers. Here’s what happened.

Though Shalt Not Dump, Especially When Being Sued

After interviewing a Porter flood victim, I was heading north on Webb Street past the entrance to the northern portion of the Woodridge job site, when suddenly, a large piece of earthmoving equipment shot out in front of me. The operator dumped a load of sticks and mulch into the ditch of a neighbor on the far side of the street. My jaw dropped! I grabbed my camera and photographed this sequence while waiting to get through. It shows him scraping mulch into the neighbor’s drainage ditch.

He held traffic up in both directions for several minutes.

When the operator saw my camera, he backed into the work site and ducked around the corner.

I drove forward and got this close up. There was one load of mulch when I left. Notice the deep truck ruts and broken asphalt being covered up.

Later that evening, one of the neighbors took the photo below at the same location. It shows that the operator dropped much more mulch into the neighbor’s ditch after I left.

Photo courtesy of Gretchen Dunlap Smith.

Property Owner Did Not Request Mulch

I returned Friday to talk to the owner of this property who wishes to remain anonymous. He says he did NOT ask the contractor to dump the mulch there, NOR did he give them permission to dump it. They just dumped it.

He theorized that it might be a feeble attempt to repair the road. However, to me, it looked more like an attempt to cover up road damage. But that didn’t work well either. As I photographed the pile the next morning…

…large construction trucks continued…
…to crack off large chunks of the street and push the material father into the ditch.
Where a nice lawn once grew, there was an ugly, useless pile of mulch to clog drains and culverts down the street during the next rain. That’s how dumping worsens street flooding.

By Saturday, Even More Dumping on Neighbor

By Saturday morning, the pile had grown wider and deeper.
It became clear that 18-wheelers where using the bed of mulch to…
…widen the turning radius into a driveway that was too narrow to accommodate large equipment.

Link Between Dumping and Street Flooding

During the next big rain, this mulch will likely wash away and block the neighbor’s culvert. When that happens, his property will flood AGAIN…on what will probably be a smaller rain.

The homeowner said that the contractor had “assured him” that they would fix the street before they left. However, he also assured me that they had not given him anything in writing.

You Can’t Put Lipstick on Bulldozers

In the meantime, Perry Homes (whose subsidiaries own this property and hired the contractor) has reportedly brought in a high-powered PR team to help shore up their image on this project, Jim McGrath and Chris Begala. Begala and McGrath have strong political ties that include former presidents! Interesting that Perry Homes thinks this is a PR problem and not a quality-control problem.

Suggestion: Just Widen Your Driveway

You don’t have to drive or dump on others’ property. You don’t have to destroy a public street. Just widen YOUR driveway. There’s plenty of room. You have 268 acres!

Here’s the location of the incident in case Begala, McGrath, Perry Homes, Figure Four or Rebel Contractors want to do the right thing. Neighbors in Elm Grove complained of these same problems and more.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/19/2019

628 Days since Hurricane Harvey