City accepts buyout grant for 23 properties

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By Nicole Jones

A buyout program for Harvey flooded homes moved forward Dec. 16 as the city received a grant program for the purchase of 23 residences flooded during Harvey in 2017.

City Council at its regular meeting voted 7-0 to accept just under $3.8 million in funding from the 2018 Texas Division of Emergency Management Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to acquire 23 residential properties described as experiencing “severe repetitive loss” due to flooding.

“This is a grant where there would be 75 percent for these residential properties, there would be a 25 percent match,” City Manager Clay Pearson said.

While the expectations for the 25 percent share fall on the homeowners, there are additional grants are pending that could help with the local match portion in some of the cases through the General Land Office, city staff said.

After the buyout, the residential properties must remain as green space, only used for parks or grass area parking, and cannot be improved.

Commonly referred to as a “buyout program,” acquiring residential lots for demolition and reversion to green-space in perpetuity has been a historical part of Pearland’s efforts to mitigate the risk of flooding to certain properties, including Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Ike and currently in response to Harvey.

After Hurricane Harvey, city staff assessed drainage capacity of certain critical flood-prone areas near Clear Creek and the City Council approved funding a small group of purchases to remove high-risk structures from specific flood hazard areas before they were restored or bought by investors. Those four properties were purchased and demolished at a cost of $516,522. The city recently learned those properties would be included in the grant, and 75 percent of the money spent would be reimbursed to the city.

The 23 properties include two on Bishopton Drive, three on Sleepy Hollow Drive and two in the 2000 block of Green Tee Drive.

A program through which residents would elevate their homes to prevent future flooding through grant funding, is still pending.

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