Tag Archive for: Woodridge Village purchase

Harris County, City of Houston Finally Close on Purchase of Woodridge Village Property

Today, almost two years after Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village development first contributed to flooding Elm Grove Village and North Kingwood Forest in Kingwood, Harris County and the City of Houston finally purchased the aborted, ill-conceived development.

Current plans are for the City of Houston to build a wastewater treatment plant on the northern portion. Harris County Flood Control District will use the southern portion to build a regional floodwater detention center. The latter should alleviate flooding problems adjacent to the development as well as other areas farther downstream on Taylor Gully.

Exact Plans for Additional Detention Capacity Not Yet Developed

It is not immediately clear how much additional detention pond capacity HCFCD will build on the property or where. However, on February 9, 2021, HCFCD hired an engineering company to develop preliminary plans.

A press release issued today by Harris County Flood Control said, “The next step is to undergo an engineering analysis to maximize stormwater detention volume, quantify the benefit to the community and determine project cost and funding. Additional community engagement will be scheduled to gather input from area residents on the proposed project and to present project alternatives.”

History of Flooding

The flooding problems began on May 7, 2019 when approximately 200 homes flooded from sheet flow coming from the development. Two to three times that number of homes flooded on September 19th, 2019 during Imelda.

Contributing factors included:

Eventually, Perry Homes, its subsidiaries and contractors managed to build five detention ponds, but their capacity still fell about 40% short of Atlas-14 requirements. Thus, the development would have posed a risk forever after had Harris County and the City not stepped in.

Photos of Property Just Purchased

Here are pictures of Woodridge Village taken on 3/3/2021 from several different angles.

Woodridge Village looking SW from the NE corner of the property in Montgomery County. The diagonal near the top of the frame and the detention pond is the Harris/Montgomery County line. Ford Road is on left.
Looking SE from the NW corner over Webb Street in Porter. The land slopes from the corner in the foreground to the detention pond in the background. Taylor Gully starts just beyond the detention pond.
Looking west along the northern boundary. The City portion of the property will border the tree line on the left and extend into the small area at the top.
Looking east along the southern border. Camera position was over Kingwood Park High School.
Looking NE from the southern border over Sherwood Trails Village in Kingwood.
Looking north up Village Springs Drive in Elm Grove. Taylor Gully starts on the right at the county line just below the concrete junction.
Looking NW from over North Kingwood Forest. Taylor Gully is on bottom right. The land slopes toward the camera position.

More About the Sale

All of the 267.35 cleared acres fall within Montgomery County. But a provision within the 2018 Flood Bond allows Harris County to purchase land in other counties if it helps control flooding in Harris.

The Harris County Flood Control District and the City of Houston jointly purchased the property for approximately $14 million. The Flood Control District is using funds from the 2018 Bond Program (Bond ID Z-02) to acquire the land. The City of Houston contributed approximately $3.8 million dollars for the use and ownership of 73 acres on the northern part of the property.

Reaction from Government Officials

“This is a great example of government doing what government is supposed to do – listening to the people who live in those neighborhoods and working to protect them from future flooding,” said Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, who pushed this project through against opposition in Commissioner’s Court.

Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin also worked tirelessly to make the deal happen. It involved trading City land to the County for flood control projects and getting the City to adopt the County’s flood control standards. “This purchase is integral for investment in the future of the Kingwood area as well as many homes along the county line. Collaboration like this is essential in providing a sense of security to residents who have endured so much uncertainty these last few years,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin.

Congressman Dan Crenshaw lauded Cagle, Martin, and community support. “This is an important step forward in building a more resilient community,” he said.

State Senator Brandon Creighton said, “This type of partnership and investment will make Kingwood and surrounding areas better protected.”

State Representative Dan Huberty complimented the City and County for working together. “This is a great example of different areas of government working together to achieve the best outcomes for local residents,” he said.

Additional detention ponds are not yet built, but this is a huge step forward. A big “thank you” and “whew” to all involved.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/3/2021

1283 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 532 since Imelda

Woodridge Village Purchase and Two More Kingwood Flood Control Measures APPROVED by Harris County Commissioners Today

Today, at 5:52PM, Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously approved three flood-control measures affecting Kingwood. The measures included approval to negotiate engineering contracts for improvements to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and Taylor Gully. The third approval involved purchase of Woodridge Village from Perry Homes to build a regional floodwater detention facility in Montgomery County.

Woodridge Village Purchase Finally Approved

The latter has ranked high on the community’s agenda ever since sheet flow from Woodridge Village contributed to flooding hundreds of homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Villages twice in 2019.

Woodridge Village photographed one year after Imelda, when sheet flow flooded approximately 600 homes at the top of the frame.

Since then, Perry has completed the planned detention ponds on the property. However, the amount of detention still falls 40% of that needed under the new Atlas-14 standards.

The City of Houston will purchase 77 acres of the property outright for a wastewater treatment facility. The City will then pay for its half of the remaining Woodridge property by trading land that the Flood Control District can use to reduce the cost of flood mitigation projects elsewhere.

Neither the City nor County have yet announced a closing date for the Woodridge purchase.

The City and HCFCD will work with the community as plans for the property and Taylor Gully are developed by IDCUS Inc.

Kudos to County and City

Seventeen months after Imelda, families in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Village will sleep easier tonight, knowing they are one HUGE step closer to safety.

Thanks to all four Harris County Commissioners, especially Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle, and Harris County Judge Lina Hildaldo. Thanks also to Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin who helped overcome objections raised at several stages in the Woodridge purchase process.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/9/2021

1260 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Harris County Approves Interlocal Agreement with City Concerning Woodridge Village

Today, Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Houston concerning the purchase of Woodridge Village from Perry Homes. On December 9, the City of Houston approved the same interlocal agreement. Today’s approval by the County brings both sides closer to a deal. But several details still remain to be worked out before closing the sale.

Remaining Details to Work Out Before Closing

Approval by both the City and County does NOT mean the purchase is automatically a done deal. Multiple surveys and appraisals must still be completed.

Any real-estate purchase is complicated, but this one is especially so because it involves three parties. Two of them want to split up the property and use it in different ways. They also want to pay for it in different ways.

  • As part of the deal, the City wants to purchase 77 acres out of the total 268 acres for itself to use as a wastewater treatment facility. The City wants to pay cash for that.
  • The remainder of the property, 191 acres, will be jointly owned, developed, operated and maintained by the City and Flood Control.
  • Flood Control’s agreement with the City says that the City will pay for its half of jointly owned acreage by donating other property that Flood Control can use to reduce the cost of other mitigation projects. 

The City and County must now get surveys and appraisals of all assets involved and agree on how to transfer them before closing. The clock is ticking.

The County’s separate purchase agreement with Figure Four gives the County until approximately March 1 to close the deal.

At Stake: Future of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest

Woodridge twice contributed to flooding Elm Grove Village in Kingwood last year. The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) hopes to build a regional flood detention facility there that would reduce flooding in Kingwood and along the San Jacinto East Fork.

Car submerged during Imelda at the end of Village Springs adjacent to Woodridge. Note the sediment laden water from the development. Photo courtesy of Allyssa Harris.

While Perry has completed detention ponds on the Woodridge site that were not present at the time of the flooding, the volume of detention still falls approximately 40% short of what Perry needs to meet Atlas 14 rainfall requirements.

How the Debate Went

County Judge Lina Hidalgo kicked off the discussion by stating she favored the proposal. Among her reasons:

  • Flood reduction in the Kingwood Area
  • Land that the County would get for other flood mitigation projects, especially along Halls and Greens Bayous.
  • Updating of the City’s drainage regulations to meet Atlas 14 requirements, even in the City’s ETJ

Russ Poppe, executive director of HCFCD noted that Perry had sunk $24 million into buying and clearing the property, and excavating detention ponds on it. He also said the property appraised at $19 million and that the County’s share of acquisition would be $5 million.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said that he initially had “grave concerns” about the acquisition but that Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s work had allayed them.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis raised concerns about the County getting stuck with the land if the City backed out of the deal.

But Robert Soard of the County Attorney’s office reassured him that if the City did not deliver, the deal was off BEFORE the County had to write a check.

Russ Poppe reassured everyone that when all conditions of the interlocal agreement were met, the commissioners would get a chance to approve the money before the deal was final.

In the end, the four commissioners and Judge Hidalgo all voted FOR the interlocal agreement. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle thanked them all on behalf of 600 flood victims.

Video of the debate has not yet been posted.

Posted by Bob Rehak on December 15, 2020

1204 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 453 since Imelda

Woodridge Village Purchase on Wednesday’s Houston City Council Agenda

Houston City Council will consider two items Wednesday that could ultimately pave the way for the purchase of Woodridge Village from Perry Homes. Woodridge Village twice contributed to the flooding of hundreds of homes in Kingwood’s Elm Grove Village last year. For more than a year, the City, Harris County Flood Control and Perry Homes’ subsidiary Figure Four Partners, LTD have discussed purchasing the property and turning it into a regional flood-control detention basin.

268 acres currently owned by Perry Homes could be turned into a regional floodwater detention basin if the purchase is approved by Houston City Council tomorrow and Harris County Commissioners Court on December 15.

If successful, the City and HCFCD would work together to reduce the volume of water flowing out of the headwaters of Taylor Gully.

$4 Million in Cash from City Plus Land

The two agenda items are #59 and #65. They call for an interlocal agreement between the City and HCFCD to jointly purchase the property. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the purchase price would total approximately $14 million. The City would pay approximately $4 million of that in cash. However, in the past, the City has also discussed the contribution of land to make up its 50% of the purchase price.

The City has also said in the past that it hopes to acquire a portion of the site outright in order to consolidate several wastewater treatment facilities in Kingwood outside of the San Jacinto floodplain. Presumably, the City’s cash would go toward the purchase of that part of the site. Both sides previously agreed to share equally in the purchase, operation, development, and maintenance of the rest of the 268 acres.

Requirements Imposed by Draft ILA from May

Earlier this year, I obtained a draft copy of the interlocal agreement by a FOIA request, which the State Attorney General partially redacted. In May, the City provisionally agreed to:

  • Adopt Atlas-14 precipitation frequency tables
  • Require a minimum detention rate of 0.55 acre-feet per acre of detention for any new development on tracts one acre or larger in size
  • Prohibit the use of hydrographic timing (flood-routing studies) as a substitute for any detention requirements, unless the project emptied directly into Galveston Bay.
  • Enforce these provisions both within the City and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The volume of detention ponds currently on Woodridge Village is about 40% short of what the new higher Atlas-14 requirements dictate. The current detention was approved and construction started before Atlas 14 became effective in Montgomery County.

The use of flood-routing studies in Montgomery County to avoid building detention ponds has long been a controversial practice that downstream residents have fought.

Next Steps in Terms of Flood Mitigation

If Council approves the money and ILA tomorrow for the Woodridge Village purchase, Harris County Commissioners would take up the issue at their next meeting on December 15. Approval by both bodies certainly would make Christmas much merrier and more hopeful for hundreds of Kingwood families devastated by flooding last year.

Kudos to Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin for pushing this forward.

The outcome of the votes could affect projects considered in the Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis. If the purchase goes through, it could reduce or eliminate the need for widening and deepening Taylor Gully itself. It is not immediately clear whether the City and County have set deadlines for the design and construction of the detention basin.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/8/2020

1197 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 446 since Imelda

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