Three areas in northwest Humble are in various stages of development. Parts or all of these areas flooded during Hurricane Harvey. The flooding was deep enough that reportedly one of the developers is not even going to try to raise the area. Instead, he said he will raise the homes 6-7 feet. Let’s hope that’s enough.
The numbers in the satellite image correspond to the groups of photos below. I took all shots on 1/3/23.
Area #1 – Light Industrial
According to a 2016 map by Skymark, the developer, the first area will become light industrial.
The unpaved area between Spring Creek and where the road ends is owned by another developer (Pacific Indio) who also owns the land on the far side of the creek.
The closer shot below shows that not all the roads have been built yet.
Area #3 – Single- and Multi-Family Residential
Looking south toward Sam’s with Townsen Blvd West on right, we can see a large stormwater detention pond that already has grass growing. This area will become single- and multi-family residential, some of which will be dedicated to seniors.
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/20230103-DJI_0559.jpg?fit=1200%2C799&ssl=17991200adminadmin2023-01-09 13:31:172023-01-09 13:39:27Development Update on 3 Areas in NW Humble
Developers are working toward building a bridge over Spring Creek and a road that would connect Townsen Boulevard in Humble with the Grand Parkway in Montgomery County. However, City and County authorities on both sides of the county line say they know nothing tangible about the bridge yet.
I’ve talked to several engineers about this property. One said that if the bridge gets built, it will open thousands of acres to development. A second said that if the property gets developed, it would be like “aiming a firehose at Kingwood and Humble.” A third cautioned that when the developer sees the new floodway and floodplain maps, a bridge will likely become cost prohibitive.
The developers in question have not returned calls, but here’s what we know so far based on publicly available information and several Freedom-of-Information-Act Requests.
Bridge Rumored for More than a Decade
The Army Corps of Engineers first issued a permit for a bridge in 2009. Last year, it issued an extension of the permit that requires completion of the work by 12/31/2026.
However, the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office and Harris County Flood Control say no one has applied for any permits with them yet to actually build a bridge. Regardless…
Company Purchases Land, Sets Up Mitigation Companies
The landowner on the north side of Spring Creek has purchased a small parcel of land on the south side of the creek at the current terminus of the Townsen Blvd. extension. Thus they would control the land needed for a bridge.
Also, a sign on westbound Grand Parkway indicates an exit for Townsen, but the road does not go through yet. Does TxDOT know something we don’t?
Another company, Skymark, also has considerable floodplain holdings in Montgomery County under a variety of corporate shells, such as Hannover Estates, Headway Estates and the CFW Family Limited Partnership. The Secretary of State SOS Direct database shows that Skymark principal Clinton F. Wong controls 231 companies including Townsen Holdings and Townsen Landing.
The Montgomery County Appraisal District website shows that many of Wong’s holdings border Pacific Indio’s. And Skymark owns most of the land south of Spring Creek where the bridge would be built. See more below.
The minutes also reference a settlement between the EPA and Skymark.
Purchase Offer Reportedly Turned Down
Harris County Flood Control reportedly offered to buy this land several years ago, but Ryko wanted “an insane amount of money.” This could have been an indication that the owner felt confident in its ability to develop the land and profit from it.
…But Project Would be Very Difficult to Develop
FEMA shows large floodways and floodplains on both sides of the creek that any road would have to go over or through. Keep in mind that the map below does not yet show the new Post-Harvey flood hazards. They will reportedly expand by 50- to 100%.
Permit plans also show at least 9 other stream crossings along the way north. Those would expand, too, with the new floodplain maps.
Finally, the project would cross numerous wetlands.
The Bender Estate, which previously owned approximately 800 acres of undeveloped land in the northwest quadrant of Humble, granted a Right-Of-Way easement to Ryko Development to construct a road that would ultimately cross Spring Creek and service the planned development between Spring Creek and 99 on the Pacific-Indio Property.
Skymark Development later purchased those 800 acres from the Bender Estate and started to develop them.
According to Jason Stuebe, Humble City Manager, after Humble began to re-construct Townsen, Ryko presented the easement to Humble and stated they intended to connect into Townsen Blvd.
This caused consternation as it didn’t fit with the city’s plans for reconstructing Townsend. All parties (including Ryko and Skymark) went to court. They reached a settlement sometime in 2018 that gave Ryko two years to begin constructing the roadway.
EPA Delays Road
However, a cease-and-desist order from the EPA delayed the work; Skymark inappropriately filled in some wetlands elsewhere on its property. Once the EPA recognized that Ryko’s road was not affiliated with the wetlands issue, EPA allowed Ryko to proceed with constructing the road.
Stuebe stated, “Because the road actually leads out of our jurisdiction, I have no further information on the status of its permitting with either Harris County or the state with regard to crossing Spring Creek. Once the roadway is completed, inspected and approved by the City Engineer and Public Works, it will become a right of way of Humble.”
I suspect that the bridge is more of a dream than a done deal at this point. Despite obstacles, attempts are being made to put all the pieces of the puzzle into place. But high hurdles remain.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/19/22
1908 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.
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/20221119-Screenshot-2022-11-19-at-2.20.46-PM.jpg?fit=1200%2C911&ssl=19111200adminadmin2022-11-19 18:11:202022-11-23 17:22:27A Townsen Bridge Across Spring Creek?
The new residential development going in along Townsen Boulevard West that I posted about last Saturday is just one of three new developments in northwest Humble. Of the other two, one will evidently be for light industrial use; the other for residential. A Townsen Boulevard extension toward Spring Creek is also under construction.
This conceptual plan by Skymark Development for Townsen Landing shows the Townsen extension in the upper left just below 94-acres designated for light industrial use. Skymark or its related companies own or owned all of the land in the colored areas below.
You may have noticed an entrance cut into the woods at the northwest corner of the Townsen loop. Several readers have asked about all the recent activity there.
On Monday 9/26/22, I took several aerial photos of work beyond the entrance. They show a four-lane divided roadway that stops at Spring Creek. The images also show a floodwater detention basin and a large clearing already surrounded by silt fence. See below.
Calls to Skymark were not returned. So it’s not clear who or what will go into that clearing by the detention pond. Harris County Appraisal District shows that the land is owned by Headway Estates, LTD, which is run by Clinton Wong.
Wong’s name is associated with hundreds of companies and partnerships in the Texas Secretary of State’s database, including Skymark, Headway Estates, Hannover Estates, and Townsen Landing. Wong and his companies own or control most of the land in the photo four photos below which comprise Townsen Landing.
If the plans above remain unchanged, the big wooded area on the right above will also become light industrial. Light industrial land uses typically include final-stage or “clean” manufacturing, wholesaling, warehousing and distribution, and the sale and servicing of vehicles and equipment. Light industry includes a broad spectrum of land uses, some of which can be compatible with urban, mixed-use development.
I have not yet obtained construction plans or drainage analyses for the light industrial area.
Saratoga Homes Residential Development West of Kohl’s
West and slightly north of the Kohl’s store on Townsen is another new development underway in Humble. Signs on Townsen Boulevard suggest most of it belongs to Saratoga Homes. But Saratoga has not returned phone calls or emails either. Most of this area is in the current 500-year floodplain. However, that could soon change with new Post-Harvey flood maps.
That detention pond is more than a mile from Spring Creek and yet this area flooded during Harvey.
The Harris County Appraisal District shows that the area with the detention pond and a strip adjacent to the drainage ditch is owned by Hannover Estates LTD, a company controlled by Wong.
The rest of the cleared area appears to be owned by JNC Development, a company related to Saratoga Homes.
Much of the land under development in Humble is in a floodplain. See below.
Note: FEMA approved the floodplain map above in 2014. FEMA should release preliminary versions of Post-Harvey maps early next year. The floodplains shown above could expand 50% or more, according to preliminary guidance from HCFCD.
During Harvey, the gage at the West Fork and 59 registered the highest floodwater in northern Harris County – 20.5 feet above flood stage.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/28/22
1856 Days since Hurricane Harvey
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/20220926-DJI_0678.jpg?fit=1200%2C799&ssl=17991200adminadmin2022-09-28 14:40:352022-10-11 10:15:32Land Cleared for Two More Humble Developments, Townsen Boulevard Extension