Liberty County commissioners and County Attorney Matthew Poston met in a lengthy executive session on Tuesday, June 8, to discuss potential litigation against Grand Parkway Infrastructure (GPI), the Humble-based construction company hired by the Texas Department of Transportation to build sections of the Grand Parkway, including Segment I-1 that cuts a swath from Dayton to Plum Grove in Liberty County, and connects to already completed sections of the loop around the Greater Houston Area.
The impending legal case may require GPI to provide adequate drainage along the Grand Parkway, according to Poston and Liberty County Judge Jay Knight. County officials believe the Grand Parkway is causing flooding in areas that did not flood previously.
As the potential litigation may involve multiple governmental entities, including the City of Dayton and Liberty County Drainage District 1, among others, commissioners decided to table plans to hire counsel for now. Over the next two weeks, Poston, on behalf of commissioners court, will contact the other entities to see if they are interested in enjoining the lawsuit.
Poston told commissioners that he first wants to get firm commitments from the other entities and establish a cost-sharing arrangement for legal fees and any other costs that might arise.
Recent rains in Liberty County highlighted drainage problems with the Grand Parkway’s current design, Poston said.
“We are very concerned that drainage is being impacted negatively,” he said.
Tuesday’s agenda also included the consideration and approval of the final plat for Santa Fe Section 11 in one of the six Colony Ridge communities south of Plum Grove, another area that has seen what local residents believe is unprecedented and manmade flooding.
In public comments, Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting, a private investigator working for the City of Plum Grove, appeared Tuesday and beseeched commissioners to deny more plats for the Colony Ridge subdivisions until the developer fixes erosion problems that have led to numerous Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) violations. In recent months, Dolcefino, who was hired by the City of Plum Grove to investigate Colony Ridge, has appeared before commissioners court a handful of times to warn of numerous issues related to stormwater, wastewater, erosion and other drainage concerns in the Colony Ridge communities.
“This week, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality finalized nine investigations into the very place I’ve been warning you about. I thought about bringing you all the paper [for these violations] because it’s 2,341 pages and it would be great television, but because I am an environmentalist at heart, and I know you all care about the environment, too, I’ve brought you a flash drive. It’s 2,341 pages of violation after violation by Colony Ridge of the very thing I’ve been trying to warn you about – erosion controls,” Dolcefino said.
Dolcefino warned that unless these issues are sorted out, people may be hurt or killed during a major flood event.
“Before the sworn depositions begin to fly around here, I am just going to give you my piece of advice. Today is the day you say no,” he said.
He suggested that the County refuse more plats until all the problems are remedied.
“You have to prove to us that you have adhered to all state rules and ordinances and then you can receive,” said Dolcefino, suggesting what the commissioners should say to the developer. “No one is against development, but there is development and then there is the raping of the ground so people suffer.”
After the closed executive session, commissioners returned to approve the plat with the stipulation that LJA Engineering, which handles most of the County’s engineering needs, provide oversight.