SIMONTON (Covering Katy News) – Nearly 200 people turned out for a public hearing on a plan to address Bessie’s Creek Flooding and the Federal Government’s plan to redefine the 100-year flood plain which would mean many additional homeowners would be required to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance rates could go as high as $4,000 per year for some homeowners according to Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers.
The chapel at Simonton Community Church was standing room only as Meyers led a meeting that consisted of his staff members, several county officials, and State Representative John Zerwas.
Meyers wants to help homeowners who live along Bessie’s Creek by creating a 250-acre, 12-foot-deep flood detention pond to hold floodwaters during prolonged heavy rain. He also revealed that he’s talking with Twinwood development in an attempt to create a win-win for taxpayers and the landowner. He hopes Twinwood Development will donate or provide a substantial discount for the detention pond land in exchange for the development company gaining a large lake that will become an amenity that increases the value of homes that they will sell.
If the land can’t be acquired at a reasonable price, Meyers will look at other options to achieve the same flood protection results. A detention pond is the first option but a staff member said it’s not the only option.
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Some members of the community expressed concern about how the project would impact their taxes if they were asked to pay for a newly created flood control district. Meyers says he wants to provide a solution that will not be a burden on taxpayers, while also providing flood protection that he believes is needed.
Other residents were concerned about eminent domain powers that the county could gain through creating a flood control district. Meyers indicated that the project would not give the county any eminent domain powers that it does not already have.
There were also concerns that the project was being rushed. Meyers admits that the project is moving quickly.
“We’re building a plane on the runway,” Meyers admitted.
He says he moved quickly on the project when he learned that Precinct 3 could qualify for a grant from the Federal Government that would pay for 75-percent of the project.
“If we end up waiting we’re going to lose federal funding,” Meyers added.
A small number of attendees were on the impolite side of vocal causing Meyers to poll the room to determine if he should move forward with attempting to solve the problems that residents were facing, post-Harvey.
“If you do not want a project, raise your hands,” Meyers said.
Only about 6 people raised their hands meaning the rest of the room felt that something needed to be done to address flooding and the very real potential that they could soon be paying steep flood insurance rates.
Meyers revealed that his team is working on the issue locally and at the state level so that the plane he’s building on the runway can take off quickly before the legislative session ends.
A bill has been drafted that would allow the project to move forward but Representative Zerwas says he will not introduce it unless constituents contact him and say they support it. Meyers says Zerwas decided not to introduce the bill after hearing from opponents of the project.
“Until I have a clear understanding of where the community is on Bessie’s Creek, I won’t file it,” Zerwas said.
“I would say it’s according to whether your house flooded,” one resident who supported the plan bellowed out. His comments produced laughter in the room.
Both Meyers and Zerwas’ homes flooded following Hurricane Harvey. Zerwas said he understands residents concerns because he’s experienced flooding at his home. Still, he will not file the bill unless he’s convinced that’s what the majority of the public wants.
“This is an issue for the community to decide,” Zerwas said.
And even if the bill is introduced by Zerwas it would also have to pass, something that is not guaranteed.
Commissioner Andy Meyers Contact information
22333 Grand Corner Suite 150
Katy, Texas 77494
Office: (281) 238-1400
Rep. John Zerwas Contact Information
22310 Grand Corner Drive, Suite 110
Katy, Texas 77494
(512) 463-0657 (Local office has an Austin Area Code)