Much has been made of Houston’s amended flood plain ordinance and how it will impact construction, and Timbergrove Manor residents have taken issue with several potential developments near the neighborhood that are within the flood plain.
The city of Houston has granted dozens of permits since Harvey, and Timbergrove Manor – whose southernmost street, Queenswood Lane (and others) flooded heavily in Harvey — is now home to several of them. Of concern to residents is that the potential sites are not only within the flood plain – in some cases lower than the neighborhood homes which flooded – but also appear to be presenting water displacement concerns for those in the immediate vicinity. Palisades Park homes, Stanley Park subdivision (a property which lies entirely within White Oak Bayou’s 100-year floodplain and has never before been built on), and City Side Homes Urban Living project all appear to be underway.
Requests for comment from site developers went unreturned prior to press time.
Timbergrove residents near Shirkmere Road recently realized structures being built up for the City Side Homes Urban Living had a two-foot high concrete wall with drains sloping towards their side, and contractors filled that concrete wall with dirt. As a result, residents on the upper side of Shirkmere Road (between Hurst and 11th Street, where much of the activity is concentrated) can see dirt from the property already draining to the front of those properties, overflowing curbs and onto existing propoerties during even the smallest flood events.
“I’ve never seen street flooding on Shirkmere and Hurst in [all these] years, but now even a brief rain covered up the curb and several feet onto a property,” concerned resident Donna Christoffel said.
The proposed Palisades Park community – set near the flood-prone rail yard west of T.C. Jester and south of Timbergrove Manor in the space currently occupied by a complex of industrial buildings — sits behind Grace Bible Church, almost entirely outside White Oak Bayou’s 100-year floodplain but still almost entirely inside the 500-year plain.
In order to connect to that street, a new roadway – which would cut through Timbergrove Manor Section 5 and be the only means of entering and exiting – would be built through what is now the church’s parking lot.
“Neighbors are angry, because not 15 feet from the houses that flooded terribly, they’re putting in an entire subdivision…there would be no way out for them,” Christoffel said.
Further, ever since receiving a commercial fill permit from the city in April, the Stanley Park subdivision developer has stacked soil — left over from TxDOT’s building of I-10 — across the site on the land west of T.C. Jester Boulevard adjacent to the train tracks near the end of Shirkmere.
Set on the southernmost edge of the neighborhood, the project – which would contain 83 homes on seven acres directly behind Queenswood Lane and lies entirely within White Oak Bayou’s 100-year floodplain – came as a minor shock to residents. A new street, named Stanley Park Drive, with accompanying similarly named stub streets, is planned to connect what are now dead ends at Shirkmere and Shelterwood Drive.
“The homes they’re building there would be a good 10-15 feet lower than Queenswood – I don’t understand how it could work for them,” Christoffel said. “…they’re using us as their flood plain.”
Timbergrove residents were in attendance at a community engagement meeting held Tuesday at White Oak Conference Center by the Harris County Flood Control District.
The meeting was meant to gather public input for flood control projects as part of a possible $2.5 billion bond package set for an August vote. But the Timbergrove group was on hand with a display showing flooded homes on Queenswood and urging officials to prevent future flooding there.
An estimated 200 concerned citizens from Jersey Village to Woodland Heights filled the meeting room to capacity, visiting with the county’s flood control staff at various information stations set up throughout the room.
It was one of the first of two dozen such meetings to be held for the various bayou, creek and river basins across Harris County ahead of the proposed Aug. 25 bond referendum.
Lana Bishop and Shelby Lee, members of the Woodland Heights Condominium Association on Julian Street, presented a letter to County Judge Ed Emmett about persistent flooding of their properties in hopes of a possible buyout.
“We’re here because we want to see what can happen with county efforts at flood mitigation,” Bishop said. “When we call city and county officials, we get contradictory information. We got a little more information here, so that’s been a benefit.”
When told of the upstream development adjacent to Timbergrove on previously undeveloped land, Bishop said: “You take up green space and where does the water go? It’s common sense.”
(The Leader editor Zach Maxwell contributed to this report.)