|The Woodlands Township Board of Directors received a presentation from the Chairperson of the Development Standards Committee (DSC) on August 24, 2016, regarding the expansion project of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church (the Church). The Board also heard Public Comment on this subject which included a request for the Board of Directors to support the DSC's direction to the Church to make a request to MUD 47 to allow the Church to plant vegetation in the MUD's drainage easement adjacent to Church property to increase the width of the Church's forest preserve.
DSC Chairperson Ms. Sargeant focused her presentation on the conditional approvals that the DSC placed on the Church's expansion project. Conditional approvals include:
1. Install an 8 foot solid fence along the rear of the property adjacent to the residential property.
Fence installation must be relocated to extend along the entire rear of the property and should
vary in location to allow for more of the forested area greater than the 15 foot forest preserve.
2. A landscape plan, with an integrated irrigation system, will be submitted in accordance with
the Commercial Planning and Design Standards.
3. Lights in the parking area must be shielded and installed in accordance with the Commercial
Planning and Design Standards.
4. Following completion of construction and reforestation, St. Anthony of Padua must reach out
to The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency in an attempt to allow for an increase in vegetation
between St. Anthony of Padua and back slope of the Municipal Utility District's (MUD) drainage
5. Township staff and designees of the DSC will perform routine site visits for the installation of
improvements and reforestation.
Following the presentation, the Board directed Township staff to work with the MUD on forestation efforts, including a request by the Township to plant on the residential side of the drainage ditch and report back to the Board with a plan.
Staff attended the MUD 47 Board of Directors meeting on September 20, 2016 and made the request to permit the Township to plant along the south side of the drainage ditch adjacent to the home and to allow the Church to plant on the north side of the ditch adjacent to the Church property. Residents of Laurelhurst attended the meeting and supported the request and asked the Board to also review issues and concerns they have with the function, maintenance and appearance of the drainage ditch.
The MUD Board directed Woodlands Joint Powers Agency staff to review the request and the residents' concerns with the drainage ditch and report back to the Board at their next meeting in October.
Tree and shrub planting cost estimate for the 1,300 linear feet behind the homes on Laurelhurst is $36,082 including installation. This includes 260 plants of the standard reforestation mixture of various sizes and varieties. The largest sized tree would be 30 gallon, the smallest size would be 15 gallon and consist of Pines, Oaks, Wax Myrtle and Yaupon Holly - the standard "Woodlands Mix". An additional $3,000 is estimated for use of the water truck to irrigate the trees and shrubs for one season. If approved, staff would contact each individual property owner to seek consensus on whether or not the resident wants trees and shrubs planted behind their home and if so, assist in the placement of the vegetation to achieve the maximum benefit of the plantings.
The Board of Directors will be considering an award of bid for reforestation services at its October 20 Board meeting. If MUD 47 permits the plantings in the drainage easement and the Board desires to move forward with the Township funding the plantings, the Board could consider authorizing the expenditure from 2016 positive variances and authorize staff to obtain the trees and shrubs separately from the pending award of bid; or, include the Laurelhurst project in the reforestation services project; or, add $40,000 to the budget for the reforestation services project for 2016-2017.
The DSC is providing updates on the development progress of the Church at each DSC meeting including reports on the weekly site visits by DSC members and Township staff. The site visits have included night visits to observe the lighting. The Church continues to be in compliance with all DSC conditions at this time. A new complaint from residents has been on early morning waste dumpster pick-ups occurring between 4:00 am and 4:30 am. Waste removal for commercial properties is not provided by the Township and is determined between the property owner and private waste removal company. The Church and contractor have indicated that the 4 to 4:30 pick-ups will end soon and they will return to between 5:00 am and 6:00 am.
DSC will require the Church to conduct a two-phase plan to landscape and reforest the forest preserve. The first phase will be performed this fall/winter during optimum planting season and will be in the areas of the preserve that are the most obvious in need of plantings. The second phase of the landscape and reforestation plan will be performed toward the end of the construction phase so that those plantings are strategically located to minimize the views and provide the best possible buffer.