By a close 4-3 vote Manvel city council approved the second reading of a controversial Master Drainage Plan that will be made part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Member Melody Hanson was the lone dissenting vote at the first reading but was joined this time by members Maureen DelBello and John Cox.
Hanson has been the primary skeptic of the Plan since it was first submitted in early 2014. She considers the Plan misdirected and imbalanced in favor of developers and future growth over current residents who are burdened by poor drainage. She told council that she has received “quite a few comments from residents after the last meeting” that express a common concern that their private property may be appropriated to accommodate not only the land deemed a “repetitive loss” by flood control authorities but also what is described as “opportunities for land acquisition” as stated in the document. Hanson reiterated an issue she has raised previously that the price of $10,000 per acre that is defined in the Plan as compensation for any condemned property as grossly inadequate, saying it “doesn’t even recuperate them for their taxes. I think it is just the beginning of some changes that some of the long-term residents are not going to be pleased with,” she said.
At the first reading previously approved, the city’s consulting civil engineer, Dan Johnson, attempted to allay concerns by reiterating the current requirement that no improvement produce a negative impact on down-stream flooding will remain, so any development of any size must prove that sufficient retention is made part of their construction program before any building permits can be issued. He also emphasized that the Plan does not suggest pro-actively meeting the recommended improvements, which he described as easily costing upwards of $130 million. He told council that existing homeowners would see no adverse impact and trees will not be destroyed.
Authors of the Plan stress that it serves only as a guide to provide recommendations for drainage improvements to the city in order to meet continued growth and future needs. Suggestions in the Plan are not unchangeable; it is described as a flexible document that can be altered as circumstances and current happenings dictate. It simply provides a model for needed drainage improvements as developers come forward with proposed projects so they will have direction on how much right-of-way will need to dedicate as part of their drainage plan for their development.
The original Plan presented two scenarios of drainage control. The one agreed to by council is seen as providing greater viability both practicably and politically as it entails a combination of strategies that includes individual on-site detention as the key portion. This scenario requires less land for common drainage flows through bayous, creeks, and reliefs and would offer less intrusion on current property owners.