Tag Archive for: Splendora

Homes Going Up on 600 Acres Along Gully Branch in Splendora

Phases One and Two of two new developments on FM2090, Townsend Reserve and Presswoods, appear to have finished clearcutting and building stormwater retention basins. They are now building streets and homes along Gully Branch, which has been channelized through the developments in Splendora.

More than 1,000 Acres at Buildout

Together, the developments eventually comprise more than 1,000 acres at buildout.

Splendora Developments on 2090

Knock on deadwood. I’ve heard no complaints yet about neighbors being flooded. Please contact me, however, if you have information to the contrary.

Photos Taken on 4/2/2023

The photos below show the first 600 acres. Assuming six houses to the acre, the land you see below could soon hold approximately 3,600 homes.

But according to the Census Bureau, Splendora currently has a population of 1,780 people. And this real estate site says the city has 737 housing units.

So get ready for some change. These two developments could bring 10,000 new residents to Splendora, increasing the population more than 5X.

Looking SE from the midpoint of the two developments across the entry to Presswoods.
Looking S from the same point. Gully Branch is now a drainage ditch that parallels the tree line that bisects the frame from L to R.
Looking SW toward Townsend Reserve along FM2090.
Looking E from over Townsend Reserve toward Presswoods. Note how Gully Branch has been channelized and framed by stormwater retention basins.
Farther east, still looking east toward US59 from over Presswoods.

For People with a Passion for Rural Living

The developments are all south of FM2090 opposite Splendora High School, Junior High and Piney Woods Elementary.

Presswoods seems to be developing faster than Townsend Reserve. DR Horton, the nation’s largest homebuilder is already selling homes in Presswoods. They range in size from 1.400 to 2.300 SF and in price from $220,000 to $300,000.

As I flew over this area today, I couldn’t help but wonder where all these new residents would shop. Splendora has several dollar stores, a small grocery store and some fast food. And growth will inevitably attract more retail. But the nearest major retail center is Valley Ranch, 10+ miles to the south.

Moving to areas like this requires a passion for rural life, a tolerance for long commutes, and a desire to stretch your housing dollar.

New Rainfall Estimates, Old Flood Maps

The drainage impact analyses for these developments are based on Atlas-14, but old flood maps. It’s not clear yet whether Montgomery County intends to update its flood maps for this area or when. The latest drainage criteria manual on the County’s
Engineering website is dated 2019.

Before I bought a home here, I would want to make sure my house was elevated far above street level.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/2/2023

2042 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.

Plum Grove, Splendora, Liberty, Others Receive HUD Grants Through GLO

GLO Commissioner Dawn Buckingham, M.D., announced yesterday more than $43 million in HUD grants for 44 infrastructure projects stemming from 2019 Disasters. The $43 million is the combined total of grants made to counties and cities stretching from the Rio Grande Valley to southeast Texas.

Counties where 2019 community development block grant disaster-relief (CDBG-DR) money will be distributed for infrastructure projects.

The infrastructure-project grants will help communities recover from the 2019 South Texas Floods as well as Tropical Storm Imelda, which devastated SE Texas.

List of Recipients

The funds will be used to improve streets as well as water and drainage facilities in:

  • Counties:
    • Cameron
    • Chambers
    • Harris
    • Hidalgo
    • Jefferson
    • Liberty
    • Montgomery
    • Orange
    • San Jacinto
    • Willacy
  • Cities
    • Beaumont
    • China
    • Combes
    • Daisetta
    • La Feria
    • La Villa
    • Laguna Vista
    • Liberty
    • Mercedes
    • Mission
    • Nome
    • Old River-Winfree
    • Orange
    • Palmview
    • Pasadena
    • Pine Forest
    • Pinehurst
    • Plum Grove
    • Port Arthur
    • Port Isabel
    • Primera
    • Rio Hondo
    • Santa Rosa
    • Splendora
    • Vidor
    • West Orange
    • Woodloch 

“Here to Help”

“Consecutive disasters have devastated communities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Southeast Texas, but the Texas General Land Office is here to help,” said Commissioner Buckingham. “These critical infrastructure awards will divert floodwaters away from homes, increase the resiliency of communities to respond to natural disasters, and restore peace of mind when the next storm hits.”

Texas GLO 2019 Disaster-Recovery Funds

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) is administering $227,510,000 in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) related to 2019 flooding. This is separate from the $750 million in mitigation funding related to Harvey and Harris County.

Out of the $227.5 million, GLO allocated $61,430,000 in disaster recovery funds for infrastructure projects. They will assist disaster relief, long-term recovery, and restoration of infrastructure for local communities. The rest of $227 million was allocated to grants that help individuals recover.

GLO announced the opening of the application for eligible counties and cities on March 15, 2022. Applications closed on August 1, 2022. Each applicant was eligible to submit a total of two applications. All activities had to contribute to the long-term recovery and restoration of infrastructure.

The GLO recognizes that repair and enhancements of local infrastructure are crucial components of long-term recovery and viability of communities.

To learn more, visit https://recovery.texas.gov/2018-floods-2019-disasters/programs/2019-disasters-infrastructure-competition/index.html.

Plum Grove Drainage Improvements – $1,000,000

Tropical Storm Imelda released an unprecedented 3-day total rainfall amount of 28 inches on Plum Grove. That limited the city’s ability to provide an immediate response due to the inundation of flood water. As a result, this project will provide much-needed drainage improvements within Orange Branch Creek which is located in the middle of the city and runs from the northeast down to the southeast. The project will install culverts and restore roads.

Splendora Lift Station Drainage Improvements – $596,625

Imelda flooding submerged the Pinewood Lift Station site, as well as its emergency generator and electrical switchgear located at the northern intersection of Pinewood Drive and First Street. Loss of both primary and emergency back-up power led to a sanitary sewer overflow at Pinewood lift station. Vehicular access, including emergency vehicle access, was not possible because of the depth of flooding in the area. This project includes drainage and generator improvements at the Pinewood Lift Station.

Construction will include the following activities:

  • Regrade ditch and install double headwalls
  • Install reinforced concrete pipe culverts under First Street with road restoration and ditch regrading 
  • Install new natural gas generator and automatic transfer switch
  • Install an elevated metal platform, staircase and skid for generator

Liberty Water, Sewer Improvements – $1,000,000

The project will provide for water and sewer line improvements located within the eastern side of the city along Beaumont Road, Minglewood Road, Glenn Street and Tanner Street. These should reduce overflow concerns for residents and businesses along these streets. The project will make improvements to sewer lines and water lines and remove and replace existing lift stations with gravity sanitary sewer lines.

Descriptions of Other Grants

For a full description of other grants in this batch, see the GLO website.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/22/2023 based on information from the Texas General Land Office

2031 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1280 Days since Imelda

Splendora Development Exploding

Splendora is exploding with growth. On FM2090 west of U.S.59 near the Splendora High School, two new developments have already cleared 598 acres and have another 611 to go. Together, they could easily quintuple the population of a rural town that only had 1900 residents in the last census.

Development Well Underway

I first covered this story in January. The developers have made remarkable progress since then. Townsend Reserve, Ltd. and Forestar USA, have built drainage, utilities, stormwater detention basins, roads and model homes on most of the land already cleared. Now, they’re building the first homes for sale. Rural, sleepy Splendora will soon change forever.

Here’s the layout and photos of work in progress.

Splendora Developments on 2090
Green = acreage under development. Red = not yet cleared. From Montgomery County Appraisal District.

Forestar USA has named its development Presswoods. Townsend Reserve USA has simply called its Townsend Reserve.

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Looking east along FM2090 at expanse of two developments. Splendora High School on right.

Closer Look at Detention Basins

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Close up from shot above. Two detention ponds in Presswoods by Forestar USA bracket Gully Branch. Gully Branch drains into Peach Creek and eventually the East Fork of the San Jacinto.
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Another Forestar USA detention basin in the foreground. Looking West.
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Looking NE at a fourth detention basin on Townsend Reserve that parallels Gully Branch.
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Entrance to Townsend Reserve from FM2090 on right. Note yet another long detention basin that parallels the entry road on the left. Looking NW toward FM2090.
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First of the new homes going up.

Three things strike me about these photos.

  • Stormwater detention basins everywhere you look. Let’s hope the volume is sufficient. Engineers based their calculations on pre-Harvey runoff estimates. As other developers clear additional forests beyond these, drainage assumptions could change radically.
  • Huge financial risk. As interest rates continue to climb, will there be buyers for these homes?
  • Vast expanse of forests surrounding the developments. They seem endless. But not for long.

People hoping to find a quiet life in the country are gobbling up the very thing they seek.

Maybe this is inevitable. Developers tell me that smaller lot sizes and higher density don’t allow them to preserve trees anymore. Builders just plant one in the front yard when they’re done.

Population Impact

It’s not exactly clear yet how many homes the developers hope to build here. But in the last census, Splendora’s population was only 1,900 people. Even if they just built 5 homes per acre on 800 developable acres and the average household size was 3, that would mean 12,000 people could live here – more than 6X the current population.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/10/22

1868 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.

Townsend Reserve, Splendora Crossing Drainage Analyses Omit Mention of New Flood Maps

A week ago, I posted about two large parcels of land being cleared south and west of Splendora High School on FM2090 in Montgomery County. At the time, I thought they might be part of the same development. Since then, I have learned that two different companies own the parcels: Townsend Reserve Ltd. and Forestar USA. However, both used the same companies – Elevation Land Solutions and WGA – for engineering.

Parcel owners and sizes. Green = land being cleared. Red = not yet clearing land. From: Montgomery County Appraisal District.

This post will focus primarily on Townsend Reserve. A previous post discussed Forestar’s property, Splendora Crossing.

WGA developed the drainage impact analyses for both developments using 2014 flood maps (see Townsend’s below). New maps are currently in development, but neither analysis mentions that. In fairness, WGA did attempt to calculate new flood elevations using its own measurements. But illustrations showing the old floodplain outlines, without mention of coming changes, may mislead potential buyers.

Townsend Reserve Map showing floodplain outline in white is based on 2014 map. Homes in dark shaded area will be elevated.

Elevation Land Solutions developed the construction plans for Townsend. It disclosed flood risk more fully.

Disclosure found on virtually every page of construction plans by Elevation Land Solutions. Note second paragraph.

It’s unclear at this time whether Montgomery County itself will attempt to update flood maps based on data acquired since Harvey. That could help buyers, but hurt builders.

Townsend Owned by Camcorp Management

I found little information about Townsend Reserve online except a certificate of formation on the Texas Secretary of State website.

It shows that Townsend Reserve, Ltd. was formed in September 2020 by general partner, Camcorp Management Inc. Both show addresses at 10410 Windermere Lakes Blvd., Houston, TX 77065. Camcorp was formed in 1993 and is associated with several developments in the region, including Brooklyn Trails in Porter. Executives of Camcorp Management are also officers in several homebuilding companies.

High-Density Development

Like Brooklyn Trails, construction documents show that Townsend Reserve will be a high-density development.

Townsend Reserve will contain many long, skinny lots with little room between homes.
Diagram of detention pond layouts from Townsend Reserve’s Drainage Impact Analysis.

Photos of Land Clearing To Date

I took the two photos below on 1/6/2022. They show the extent of current clearing and drainage mitigation.

Looking west along FM2090 at northern portion of Townsend Reserve. That square of trees in the middle of the shot will eventually become a small retail center serving the development.
Looking SW over FM2090 at southern portion of Townsend Reserve

Drainage Analysis Claims “No Adverse Impact”

The drainage impact analysis for Townsend Reserve concludes that the proposed project and associated drainage features will result in “no adverse impact” to existing flood hazard conditions along Gully Branch for storm events up to and including the 100-year event. “No adverse impact” is the gold standard. Engineers must certify it before Montgomery County will approve their plans.

Engineers do this by showing that the estimated runoff after development is no greater than the runoff before development. Detention ponds and channels supposedly hold back the increased peaks due to faster runoff...if all their assumptions and calculations are correct.

The 115.7-acre initial phase of Townsend Reserve’s development include a bypass channel and stormwater detention basin located along the south side of Gully Branch. You can clearly see both in the photos above.

The ultimate development will include the construction of two additional storm water detention basins.

WGA Drainage Impact Analysis

For both Phase 1 and ultimate development, portions of the site will be elevated using fill from excavation of the bypass channel and detention basins. Engineers call this practice “cut and fill.” They do not bring fill into the flood plain. They just move the dirt around. So there’s no reduction of floodplain capacity.

Portions of this fill will be located within the 1% annual chance floodplain based on the 2014 map. WGA’s Drainage Impact Analysis claims, “The proposed project results in lower flood profiles throughout the project reach, and an overall reduction in floodplain storage volume. However, the proposed drainage features provide a more efficient use of the available floodplain storage volume, resulting in no increase in peak flows downstream.”

Analysis Based on Atlas-14 Rainfall, but Old Flood Maps

New post-Harvey flood maps due to be released within months will reportedly show the 100-year floodplain expanding into the 500-year floodplain in most places. That could dramatically alter some of the assumptions above. However, I can find no references to new maps in either WGA analysis for Splendora Crossing or Townsend Reserve.

Montgomery County Atlas-14 requirements are slightly lower than those in the Lake Houston Area because of slightly less rainfall. Therefore, the proposed drainage features for Townsend will result in slightly less detention capacity.

168 acre feet of detention equals .57 acre feet per acre. If this development were in Harris County .65 acre feet per acre would be required.

To see Townsend Reserve’s entire entire drainage impact analysis, click here.

In fairness to developers, they can’t put their plans on hold indefinitely while new flood maps are drawn and approved. However, in fairness to buyers, you would think the engineering documents would at least disclose the potential of new maps. Likewise, what are man-made and natural factors that increase flood risk, as Elevation Land Solutions pointed out above?

The standards for disclosure in engineering seem lower than the standards for many other industries. I’ve read fuller disclosures on an aspirin bottle.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/15/2022

1600 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.

More Than 1,000 Acres Being Cleared South of Splendora High School

Forestar Real Estate Group, Inc., one of the nation’s leading developers, is clearing land south of FM2090 opposite Splendora High School for a new residential development called Splendora Crossing. Forestar solicited bids for clearing Phase 1 in June 2021 and Phase 2 in September 2021. Aerial photos indicate clearing activity beyond Phase 2 is likely related. However, I can find no plans and can’t verify that. Montgomery County has not yet responded to my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request.

Together, the cleared areas will comprise approximately 1160 acres and stretch approximately 1.5 miles along FM2090.

Estimate based on Aerial Photos, Plans and Google Earth
Plans for Phases I, 2 and beyond. Note: more clearing is already underway to the left/west of the western property boundary. See pictures below.

The Way It Was

The area in question was heavily forested.

Approximate location of new development.

Gully Branch runs through the middle of it and joins Peach Creek farther east near US59.

FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer shows a substantial 100-year flood plain along Gully Branch running through the middle of the property based on a pre-Atlas 14 study in 2014.
From the Montgomery County Harvey Story. FM2090 was cut off and impassable during Harvey. Gully Branch is the unmarked stream that parallels FM2090 in the map.

Peach Creek runs down the western side of Lake Houston Park and joins Caney Creek and the East Fork San Jacinto at East End Park in Kingwood.

The Way It Is

Contractors already have constructed two large detention ponds and a drainage/detention ditch on the property that fronts FM2090. The ditch parallels Gully Branch and will likely shrink the floodplain. Contractors used dirt from the ditches and ponds to elevate areas where homes will go.

Looking east along FM2090 at eastern portion of new development. Note Splendora High School in upper left.

On the western section, clearing extends about a half mile south of the road. See the picture below.

Looking SW at western portion. FM2090 snakes out of view in the upper right. It’s not clear how big the area in the distance is. I could not find plans.
Closer shot of western section. Note large detention pond in western section and Gully Branch cutting across drainage channels.
Looking south at Phase 2 Burn Pit and area still being cleared.
Close up of detention pond on eastern section. Looking east. Splendora High School is in upper left.
Looking SE. Construction roads are already snaking into forest.
Looking west along FM2090.
TCEQ permit sign on eastern portion of site. I did not see one posted on western portion.

Unlike Woodridge Village, this developer seems to be building detention during clearing rather than afterwards. That’s a good sign. More news to follow as it becomes available.

Update: A FOIA Request to Montgomery County revealed that there are actually two developers working on this land. For more on this story and to learn about the drainage impact of the development, see this post.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/8/2022 and updated on 1/15/2022

1593 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.