Exploration Green granted variance for project to continue

Work on Exploration Green will continue after the airport board of adjustment last night granted the project a variance.

“Construction will restart as soon as [the] contractor can gear up,” John Branch, Clear Lake City Water Authority president, wrote in an email to Community Impact Newspaper.

About a month ago the CLCWA halted work on its detention pond project after Houston Airport System officials said Exploration Green violated city ordinance, Branch said.

The ordinance states any detention pond within 3.5 miles of a Houston airport has to be a dry-bottom pond, which is one that drains within 72 hours of a storm. Exploration Green, which is less than 3.5 miles from Ellington Airport, is a wet-bottom pond that always retains at least 6 feet of water, Branch said.

The ordinance exists to prevent flocks of birds that wet-bottom ponds attract from getting into the aircraft flight paths, he said.

Once complete in late 2021, the $30 million Exploration Green project will hold an estimated 500 million gallons of water and prevent an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 homes in the Clear Lake area from flooding. Phase 1 was completed early this year, and Phase 2 was set for completion by early 2019 when work halted.

Dozens of residents and officials showed up to Thursday's meeting, and most voiced support for the variance. Exploration Green volunteer Brian Schrock attended the meeting with several friends, all of whom he met while volunteering for the project, he said.

"It felt very uplifting to see so many volunteers and supporters list the many reasons this park was meaningful to them," Schrock wrote to Community Impact Newspaper. "Many mentioned the relief they had during Harvey when the waters didn't reach their homes, [and] many more mentioned the increase of people enjoying the trails or the volunteer opportunities for scouts."
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

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