Harris County Issues Clarification on Development Regulations

Bradley PepperAdvocacy, Codes, Featured, Land Development

In June, Harris County adopted new drainage and floodplain management regulations, as well as new development requirements based on the updated Atlas 14 study of historical rainfall data.

At the time the GHBA, along with other development stakeholders, were able to work on some changes and have some questions resolved, but there are and will be issues that need resolution.

Since then, we have been given further direction regarding vested rights and continued development in legacy projects. If you have design projects that are eligible for vested rights, you have three options:


1 – Not utilize vested rights, and continue on with the permitting process under the new regulations/requirements.

2 – Claim vested rights, and follow the process outlined on the Harris County Engineering Department’s website utilizing the affidavit and notes that acknowledge that the project is not being designed with best available data and may flood others, or;

3 – Have an engineer evaluate and self-certify that the project meets the intent of the new regulations in a manner consistent with a memorandum presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). (No affidavit required)

For option 3, if the engineer evaluates the design of the future development phases and technically demonstrates that construction of the proposed future development meets the standard of the adopted July rules, but not necessarily all elements rules, then the design will receive a development permit from the county.

To see the ASCE memo, Harris County Engineering Department’s response and concurrence and answers to some FAQs, go to: www.eng.hctx.net/Portals/23/ASCE-Response-attach.pdf

Floodplain Easements Clarification

In addition, the county has issued clarification on floodplain easement requirements in the following Codeword 1910-001.

Q: When is Floodplain Easement required to be placed on a plat?

A: If the buildable area of each single family lot or multifamily reserve shown on the proposed plat does not fall within the 100 year floodplain per the latest FIRM panel or the 100 year boundaries of a final or administratively complete LOMA, LOMR or LORM-F (submitted to Harris County Flood Control District), then no floodplain easement will be required on the plat. If no floodplain easement is required, then delineation of floodplain boundaries is not required.

Commercial reserves restricted against all residential do not require floodplain easements.

Q: Do the infrastructure regulations allow for floodplain easements to be dedicated via separate instrument?

A: Floodplain easements may be dedicated by separate instrument prior to plat approval. Floodplain easements and dedicatory language/certifications must be shown on the plat regardless of how the easement is dedicated.

For a copy of the code word go to: www.eng.hctx.net/Portals/23/Publications/Codeword-FPMRegs1910.pdf

About the Author

Bradley Pepper

Government Affairs Director Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA)