Lawsuit over flooding in Plum Grove ends, summary judgment expected to be appealed

Plum Grove's old city hall, damaged by Hurricane Harvey, is pictured. Today, Plum Grove has a new city hall that was built on an elevated site that should withstand future flood events.

The long-running legal battle between the City of Plum Grove and Colony Ridge took another step on Wednesday, Jan. 11, with 253rd State District Judge The Honorable Chap Cain granting each party a summary judgment, with Colony Ridge winning its argument that the development is not to blame for flooding in Plum Grove. The City won a summary judgment that relates to 2.6 acres that Colony Ridge promised to the City in exchange for a development agreement made several years ago.

The City of Plum Grove filed suit against Colony Ridge alleging that the development is responsible for causing flooding related to the creation of tens of thousands of residential and commercial lots. Trey Harris, owner of Colony Ridge, argues that his development was greenlighted by two engineering firms – one working for Colony Ridge, and an engineering firm used by Liberty County – LJA. He says Colony Ridge is not responsible for the flooding damage, particularly that caused by natural disasters.

“It wasn’t me that caused the 17-inch rain from Tropical Storm Imelda and I have been blamed for Hurricane Harvey, too,” said Harris, adding that City leaders are doing a “gross injustice” to their residents by spending close to $200,000 in taxpayer dollars for legal fees in the lawsuit.

Harris believes it is indicative that the lawsuit lacks merit as the case ended without a trial.

“I think that speaks for itself. Judge Cain has a reputation of being a fair and reasonable person. I think the fact that he ruled on our behalf was substantial in affirming that their allegations are unfounded,” he said.

At the hearing on Wednesday, Cain told attorneys for the two parties that the expert hired by Plum Grove was unable to show the quantity of water allegedly created by Colony Ridge.

“The expert never conclusively stated that the runoff changed, before or after the development,” Cain told Bluebonnet News. He added that allegations regarding wastewater runoff involves a third party, not Colony Ridge.

Plum Grove Mayor Pro Tem Dianna Chun said Cain’s ruling in favor of Colony Ridge is a disappointment as she wholeheartedly believes the development is to blame for flooding properties that never previously flooded. She promises that the City will appeal the part of the summary judgment that went in Colony Ridge’s favor. Another complaint by the City is that the properties granted through the summary judgment are not connected but are instead four separate parcels.

“There is no reason why it should have gone the way it did. We will be working with the engineer we started working with. We feel like there is enough information to prove what is needed to move forward with the case. I can’t go any further than that with my comments,” Chun said. “I will say that if you look at all of the drainage for that project, it comes through us in Plum Grove.”

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


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