By Micah Heilbrun, Timbergrove, Section 5 Resident, TMCC Director
In Hurricane Harvey, friends and neighbors in Section 5 came together to help each other to safety during the rains and comforted one another when the floodwaters receded. In the aftermath, we tallied the tears and losses: homes, cars, properties, memories and, sadly, even some longtime residents who made the hard decision to move on. For those who stayed to rebuild, many felt a stronger sense of kinship and caring for our neighbors who persevered during the difficult days and months afterwards. Houston expected their city and elected leaders to live up to the promises made on countless news broadcasts that steps would be taken to make the city safer and more resilient.
In April 2018, Section 5 residents noticed that 24 dump trucks entered the Stanley Park area from Shirkmere and beginning filling in the E-105 rivulet that runs along the south side of Queenswood and drains stormwater into the White Oak Bayou. The area lies completely within the 100-year floodplain and is regulated jointly by the City of Houston Floodplain Management Office and the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD). Section 5 residents rallied together by meeting in homes to understand how development could possibly be permitted in this area. We learned that Lovett Homes, d/b/a Stanley Park Developments, was planning to build 77 townhomes and force dual access through Shirkmere and Shelterwood. We believed, and have proven, that Lovett Homes/Stanley Park failed to comply with City of Houston and HCFCD required permitting and unlawfully filled in the E-105 ravine. At the time of this writing, illegal fill totaling thousands of cubic yards still remains to obstruct storm water flow and add debris into the White Oak Bayou watershed.
In June 2018, we attended HCFCD public meetings and educated ourselves on the limited public resources available to us. We knew little to nothing about the process but were committed to being rational and accurate on the facts. Volunteers researched regulations, sought experts, made countless calls, built websites, filed open records requests, raised awareness and supported each other’s efforts. Through one resident’s hard work, we were able to secure a meeting with HCFCD’s leadership, Russ Poppe, and City of Houston’s Chief Resilience Officer, Steve Costello. City of Houston Council member, Ellen Cohen was invited to attend the meeting but canceled that morning. HCFCD confirmed what we had learned: Lovett Homes/Stanley Park had no permits to fill in E-105 and no drainage plans filed for the Stanley Park development. As a direct result of Section 5’s grass roots efforts, HCFCD withdrew the initial permits for the Stanley Park development. It took more work but Mayor Turner also “red-tagged” the development and it has remained dormant but under Section 5 residents’ watchful eyes.
In June and July 2018, Section 5 residents appeared five times before City of Houston Council in public meetings to request greater oversight and enforcement on permitting in the 100-year and 500-year floodplain for White Oak Bayou. A public donation and petition website helped drive awareness and several residents kept the fight visible on social media. Funds are currently allocated to pay for a private engineering study on the impact of proposed Stanley Park, and newly disclosed, Palisades Park which plans to build 100+ townhomes south of Grace Bible Church. In a public meeting on July 19, we shared our research and findings with neighbors. None of these developments have disclosed drainage plans to show how storm water will be conveyed or surface sheet flow (flooding) controlled. We have shown Lovett Homes/Stanley Park tried to “double-dip” on detention credits. We believe that these developments, if allowed, are certain to negatively impact storm drainage and flooding in the overtaxed E-105 area.
Please consider joining your neighbors to raise visibility on new developments in the greater Timbergrove areas. We accept certain facts about living in Houston. But unsafe and irresponsible developments funded by developers who donate to favored politicians and care little about following the required regulations and permitting process cannot be allowed. We have had some initial success but know that the road is long and arduous ahead. We welcome volunteers, supporters, patrons, concerned citizens and neighbors. Everyone has time, talents or treasure – and every voice counts in this fight. We have been encouraged and sustained by so many neighbors. Thank you for your continued support and please join the effort to protect our treasured Timbergrove neighborhoods.
For more information: www.stopstanleypark.com
What can you do?
- Visit www.stopstanleypark.com
- Sign up for “Join Mailing List” and read “News/Alerts”
- Sign the petition (see link at top of www.stopstanleypark.com home page)
- Donate to the “Neighborhood Defense Fund: (see link at top of www.stopstanleypark.com)
- Call our elected officials:
Mayor Sylvester Turner
Council Member Ellen Cohen
- Join our Social Media: “Stop Stanley Park” Facebook