LAKE JACKSON — Though the Alden subdivision developers hope to stray from some Lake Jackson standards, displacing water and contributing to flooding is not in any party’s interests.
City staff presented a slideshow at a workshop last week showing that while much of the surrounding Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison property and Sugar Mill and Jackson Oaks subdivisions were largely underwater Sept. 1, 2017, the future Alden site was mostly dry.
The water that flooded these properties did not come from the 987-acre plot on the east side of Oyster Creek, City Manager Bill Yenne said.
In major flooding events, water comes from the Brazos River and crosses Highway 35 through Bar X, Yenne said. It then crosses FM 521 and goes through railroad trestles to the west side of prison property and continues to flow south near Sugar Mill and Jackson Oaks, Yenne said.
The city recorded shallow pools of water within the Alden subdivision during Hurricane Harvey, but the bulk of the property was not flooded, he said.
The future developers’ goal is to ensure that no additional water will come off the property after it is built out, Yenne said. They will be required to build to the new FEMA maps as well as city engineer standards, he said.
He presented this information during a workshop Feb. 10 that included the developers, Lake Jackson City Council, the planning commission and Lake Jackson Development Corp.
The workshop was scheduled to discuss parameters of a planned unit development, or PUD, that will allow the subdivision to function as a whole under a specific set of rules separate from the city’s ordinances.
The development is expected to include starter homes to homes worth upwards of $400,000, multi-family apartments, commercial development, lakes, parks, age-restricted housing and an elementary school.
Kathryn Parker of META Planning said she made several changes to the PUD since the first workshop, but sought council and staff direction about proposals that differ from the city’s typical allowances.
One would be to allow flexibility to the amount of acreage devoted to certain aspects of the development, including single family housing, by increasing or decreasing it as much as 15 percent, Parker said. They would also like the option to change the location or split up the acreage without approval from City Council, she said.
Making part of an approved development no longer contiguous is something that would usually have to go through an ordinance change process in Lake Jackson. The requested PUD allowance would prevent delays as developers wait out the length of that process, Parker said.
The council and planning commissioners who would consider these requests are typically glad to approve reasonable ones, Commissioner Jeff Gilbert said.
Yenne would not feel comfortable approving requests before bringing them to City Council, since they affect other residents, the people who truly run the city, Yenne said.
But the concession would allow small changes, for example, if developers discovered that they needed to put a detention pond in a slightly different location, Parker said. However, she gathered there is not support for removing the contiguous requirement within the PUD.
Billboards are not allowed in Lake Jackson, but the proposed PUD would temporarily allow them to advertise the subdivision along Highway 288.
This makes sense because it would be frustrating to have drivers pass by Alden on their way to work each day not knowing that an empty subdivision is sitting nearby, Gilbert said.
Mayor Bob Sipple disagreed and said that billboards provide a “cheapening” effect. It’d be preferable to have a grand entrance that advertises without having to put words on a sign, like that of Rodeo Palms in Manvel.
Parker countered that the signs would be temporary.
Development corporation member Josie LaChance said the city could set guidelines on how the signs would look and what they could display.
One attendee asked whether there will actually be a bridge crossing over Highway 288 to go into and out of the neighborhood.
Engineer Alan Hirshman said they have met with the Texas Department of Transportation three times in six months. Ideally, they’d open the bridge in three years in coordination with the project, Hirshman said.
That’s quite hopeful, meeting goers said.