Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lois Myers Claims Houston Homes Flooding Due to City's Failure to Enforce Detention Pond Requirements

Letter from Lois Myers to Houston Council member Helena Brown:

  Since City-controlled TIRZ 17's incipience in 1999 as a Tri-Party Agreement (the City, TIRZ 17, & Memorial City Management District), TIRZ 17 has been required by Contract to install 4 detention ponds, to dispose of its rain run-off of its new commercial development projects, to prevent flooding of adjacent properties.  Yet to-date, not 1 pond has been done, and residents' homes on all sides of TIRZ 17's 1,000 Acres have been flooded as a result, with many being still at great risk of being flooded again in a heavy rainstorm, until and unless TIRZ 17 puts in its required detention ponds.  But, due to various reasons/excuses, they may never be built.
         Therefore, in the interim of TIRZ 17's working out its legalities for putting in proper detention, I am proposing an alternative solution, to prevent any future potential flooding in our neighborhoods caused by TIRZ 17, as we are still at great risk, and in the best interest of the larger community, namely ALL of Houston:  I am asking that all of City Council place a moratorium on any current new commercial building in TIRZ 17 until there are plans for and completion of at least two of TIRZ 17's detention ponds-- not just halt its current annual CIP Budget--
          AND/OR within a month's time, change the City Ordinance(s) pertaining to detention ponds for commercial development by eliminating ALL grandfathering and ALL loopholes in any such City Ordinance(s):  Commercial developers should be required to install, at their expense, a detention pond IF their project(s) is(are) 1 Acre or more in size, period.  No skipping out of building them because of previously-existing conditions, whether dirt-fill can or has been added to the land, or whether the surface was previously impervious or pervious.  All developers must comply with this new City Ordinance for commercial construction-- no if's, and's, or but's!  NO Loopholes!  They may put the ponds either above-ground or below-ground, such as beneath parking garages.  
          Houston has become "cement city" overnight, it seems, without enough detention ponds-- so the streets, as well as residents'  homes, flood!  The Rebuild Houston Drainage Fee taxes mostly individual homeowners, to fix flooding and damaged or inadequate underground street storm and sewer pipes in neighborhoods, due to undue duress of new-fangled construction, while commercial developers skip out of putting in their detention ponds required by City Ordinances that are out-of-date by today's standards.  We have skyscrapers today, and many more commercial buildings as compared to days past.  We use far more cement and asphalt today, covering green-space or "groundswell".  We add truckloads of dirt-fill to raise the elevation of properties signficantly, causing spilling of water all the more rapidly onto other people's homes.  Moreover, scientists tell us Houston is sinking a fraction of an inch every year, as we flatten out more to sea-level.  The new Drainage Fee may not even have had to be inaugurated had commercial developers carried their share of putting in detention as required by City Ordinance-- which might have prevented a lot of flooding of streets and, hence, homes.  Loopholes or previously existing conditions, known as grandfathering clauses, should be done away with in a NEW City Ordinance requiring that ALL commercial developers put in a detention pond(s) for a project(s) of 1 or more Acres.
             Such new City Ordinance(s) could be easily drawn up and ratified, as an alternative to resolvingTIRZ 17's legal snags until it can put in a detention pond(s).  And we residents in neighborhoods surrounding TIRZ 17 would feel a lot safer, knowing that however it was accomplished, we have detention ponds so that we won't be flooded out by any more new commercial development! 
             But these City Ordinance changes must be done quickly as possible, to save our neighborhoods from being flooded any further by TIRZ 17's new development.  And they will also concommitantly serve a larger purpose of saving all of Houston's neighborhoods.
            Thank you, and May God Bless you and CM Brown for helping us!
            Lois Myers