A History of the Clear Lake City Golf Course: Sequence of Events & Legal Actions
Early CLC Golf Course History
Circa 1930--The land area now know as Clear Lake City (CLC) was bought for oil & gas exploration by a company that would eventually become known as Exxon-Mobile.
1962-- Exxon created the Friendswood Development Company and they developed the planned community called Clear Lake City. It included a 178 acre green space/golf course & community center. Deed restrictions were placed on the golf course property that prohibited it from being used as anything other than a golf course or other recreational facility until 2021.
1963 through 2001--The Property functioned as a golf course for almost 40 years.
Current CLC Golf Course History/Events
2002— Renaissance Golf Group (RGG) buys a majority interest in CLC Golf Club for $2.3 million. They operate it as a golf course for 3 years.
Spring 2005—RGG announces golf course is not profitable and is for sale. They plan to close the facility, seek removal of the Deed restrictions, and sell the Property for residential and commercial redevelopment.
Spring 2005--The Clear Lake City Civic League forms the Green Space Preservation Committee to oppose redevelopment & preserve the Property as a green space. Two of the Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA)directors, John Branch & Robert Savely, become co-chairs of the Green Space Preservation Committee. Savely then presents a draft resolution to the Water Authority providing that they unanimously and wholeheartedly support the GSPC's mission. A board vote was never taken on his resolution.
July 2005-- Licensed hydrologist/engineer &attorney, Larry Dunbar was hired by the Water Authority and prepared a flooding issues report for them. It should be noted that nothing in the report indicated a need for regional detention pond construction.
August 2005--The RGG engineering firm reported on drainage issues associated with the redevelopment of the Property. They concluded that construction of detention facilities on the Property would relieve increased drainage resulting from its redevelopment and might also help street flooding in the general area.
September 2005--Dunbar's next report established more stringent standards for redevelopment (500 vs 100 year flood events) of the Property. The Water Authority also amended its policies regarding drainage and flood control for new development to also apply to redevelopment of the Property.
October 2005--The Clear Lake Golf Club closes and goes out of business.
November 2005-- Dunbar conducts a broader study of flooding in the WA's district. Specifically looking at flooding along Horsepen Bayou into which the Property's two canals flow. He recommended detention facilities be constructed on the Property and another property south of Ellington Airfield. This was presented orally & via PowerPoint at the 11-10-05 Board meeting. The WA passed a unanimous resolution to acquire both pieces of property by voluntary acquisition or condemnation proceedings if necessary. This would allow the WA to create detention facilities to mitigate existing subdivision street flooding and lower high water conditions of Horsepen Bayou by 2 or 3 feet, thereby reducing downstream impact.
December 2005--Dunbar and John Branch then held meetings with the Harris County Flood Control District & the City of Houston regarding detention facilities. Both groups requested written data which Dunbar prepared. Both decided not to get involved. **** In 2005, the residents voted to buy the old golf course through a bond offered by the Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA). Our intention was to save the magnificent old trees and gentle paths that crisscrossed the passive park. Unfortunately in 2011, the Water Authority announced their plans to destroy the park, cut down all the trees and gut the entire 178 acre park. They created a sham of citizen subcommittees to justify their intentions. Realizing we had been manipulated, we organized in several groups that eventually became the Friends of the Old Golf Course. Through a series of meetings, we exposed their ugly intentions, misinformation and manipulations. The Water Authority supporters sent people to our meetings as stated in a leaked email, 1/8/13. Their so-called “supporters” attempted to disrupt our meetings and had to be removed.
The Water Authority has rigidly held that they must destroy our park citing a court decision. However, this is one of their deceptions. The property was bought directly from the developer. (See Myth #1.) They also insist that the area must be gutted due to flooding. This is not supported by the Harris County Flood Control District. A partial list of misinformation and fear mongering attempted by the Water Authority can be found at Myths & Misinformation.
The Water Authority has stated repeatedly that they will destroy our park, but will not rebuild it. We will be left with an ugly hole gutting the center of town and scarring our city for decades. Please help us stop the CLCWA's horrible plan. Help us save these beautiful trees and our beautiful park (see the Photo Gallery). *************** 11-13-2006--The owner's of the Property, RGG, filed suit against Exxon to be released from the deed restrictions.
3-1-2007--The Civic League and Water Authority filed suit to intervene in the Exxon law suit. They even used the same law firm.
3-8-2007--House Bill 3232 is filed in the Texas House of Representatives. It’s purpose was to place restrictions on the redevelopment of golf courses integrally designed into a residential community.
3-14-2007-- The CLCWA makes a formal offer to purchase the Property. Their offer was rejected by RGG.
4-18-2007--CLCWA files suit to condemn the Property for the purpose of flood control via detention.
5-10-2007--In the CLCWA suit, the judge appointed three commissioners to review appraisals & determine a fair value for the Property. The law suit to break the deed restrictions was frozen and would not be heard if the CLCWA's condemnation suit was successful. The condemnation value would also be determined with the deed restrictions staying in place if the case was successful.
9-17-2007--The special commissioners recommended a value of $14,132,000 for the Property without deed restrictions. Due to the WA's objections, the court said the validity of the deed restrictions and the value of the Property must be decided in court.
10-15-2008-- After much legal wrangling and maneuvering, the Property condemnation jury trial began. It hinged on expert testimony by Hydrologists from both sides. The RGG team presented Mr.Andrew Yung , it's engineering/hydrology expert, who has experience in both public & private sectors & the planning of regional detention basins. Mr. Dunbar was the WA's expert. Important points made by Mr. Yung during trial :
1. Mr. Dunbar's reports & powerpoint presentations were not supported by sound engineering analysis. The properties in the vicinity of the Property are outside the 100-year flood plain. Also,the neighborhoods around the Property experienced only street flooding due to inadequate or poorly maintained storm-sewer systems. This flooding was not due to lack of detention capability.
2. Mr. Dunbar's reports were inadequate because they were only conceptual and did not justify the need for the proposed detention facilities, therefore acquisition for facilities was premature.
3. Mr. Dunbar's reports lacked analysis regrading the design of hydraulic structures absolutely necessary to divert drainage of 1649 acres uphill from one of the canals on the Property into the proposed detention facility. They also lacked any evidence that the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) would ever approve such a diversion.
4. There was no hydraulic analysis to support the impact the proposed detention facilities would have on the 100-year floodplain and flood levels along Horsepen Bayou.
5. The WA did not address costs of the detention facilities or specific designs for the detention facilities. Mr. Yung reported detention would benefit only 15 to 20 homes along the bayou, and a buy out of these would be more cost effective.
6. Mr.Yung characterized the WA detention plan to be excessive (in his experience). With recesses and breaks and maneuvering the trial lasted a while.
Nov.2009-- The jury agreed with RGG in the first court level by finding that the WA had acted fraudulently & arbitrarily when it decided to take the Property to construct a detention facility. They determined the fair market value of the Property was $5.1 million with deed restrict instead of the $15 million requested by RGG.
Feb. 2010--Court mandated mediation was held to narrow gaps between two sides. Not successful--WA filed an appeal of the findings to next court level.
3-26-2010-- Hearings resumed on RGG deed restrictions case against Exxon.
2-24-2011--The CLCWA wins its appeal in the condemnation suit. Lower court decision is reversed. WA can buy the property for $5.1 million. RGG can appeal to Texas Supreme Court within 30 days.
May-2011--RGG and WA negotiate an offer to sell the Property outright rather than continue expensive law suits. On May 6 they sign a deal for $6.25 million.
May 2012—After winning re-election to the Water Authority, WA holds Town Hall meeting led by John Branch and Robert Savely. They promise the community a park with detention design(preliminary) to alleviate so called flooding issues. The Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) selected by the Water Authority and co-chaired by Frank Weary and John Jacob heads up the effort. They invite community members to serve on subcommittees that support the Water Authority plan. They are told that community opinion would influence the plan. Each subcommittee was led by a co-chairman, hand-picked by Weary and Jacob.
Aug. 2012-- WA holds Town Hall meeting in which the several committees report on their completed recommendations. There was no feed-back to the volunteers concerning implementation of their suggestions. The WA reports they had no funding to apply to implementation of any amenities. The only thing they can do is excavate the OGC try to sell the OGC soil to pay for the excavation of the detention facility.
Feb. 2013--WA holds Town Hall Meeting to introduce their OGC Master Plan for Detention Facility. It can be found elsewhere in this web-site. This plan was created by South West Architects (SWA) under contract to the WA for a cost of $80,000. The plan presented is essentially the same plan the Water Authority promoted prior to the Citizen Advisory Group subcommittees. At best the Water Authority plan is controversial and would destroy the OGC if implemented. The Friends of the Old Golf Course have included a better plan for the Property as part of this web-site.
May 2013—The WA requests a permit amendment to allow up to 10 million gallons of treated waste water to be pumped uphill and dumped into the old golf course behind residential homes. Previous local flooding issues and the so called need for detention is no longer a factor.