Texas’ top elected officials are demanding investigations into a sprawling housing development near Houston alleged to be causing “chaos” by attracting “illegal immigrants.”
Colony Ridge, 35 miles north of Houston, is home to as many as 75,000 people in an area at least 50 percent bigger than Manhattan.
The Post revealed the scale of concerns in September as neighbors claimed it is a “no-go area,” a home to criminals and drug cartels, and a magnet for “illegal immigration.”
Opponents accuse Colony Ridge’s developers, the billionaire brothers John and Trey Harris brothers of preying on people, especially migrants, by advertising a fantasy of suburban home ownership that in reality, they allege, is a vast, shoddily constructed, environmentally unsafe trailer park run on predatory lending practices.
Now both Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have demanded state lawmakers use their powers to investigate at a special legislative session which is currently underway.
Paxton, who avoided impeachment in September when the state Senate voted to acquit him in a trial wrote on Oct. 19 to state lawmakers and said, “The development appears to be attracting and enabling illegal alien settlement in the state of Texas and distressing neighboring cities and school districts.
“Complaints from nearby communities about the development’s scale of growth and unmanageable externalities reveal that this unincorporated settlement has drawn far too many people and enabled far too much chaos for the current arrangement to be tolerated by the state.”
He also said that Colony Ridge may be part of a trend, writing, “Texas has seen a growing trend of real estate developers buying huge quantities of undeveloped land, creating primitive subdivisions, and selling the bare lots in a practice often paired with offering minimal down-payment, high-interest owner-financed loans.
“These loans require little identity verification. Lax development codes for unincorporated areas mean residents can crowd onto a property and the residential population can expand quickly.”
Abbott said in September interview that he planned to act on “any issue that needs to be enforced, in terms of a new law in the state of Texas, to make sure we’re not going to have colonies like this in our state” and called for Colony Ridge to be examined in a recent special session of the state legislature.
But critics say that more than two weeks after that special session started, no bills have been filed or debated on the Colony Ridge issue — and that Abbott is among politicians who have received large donations from the Harris brothers.
The governor and his campaigns have taken more than $1.5 million from the brothers, who began the 40-square-mile development on unincorporated land in Liberty County 15 years ago.
No opponents of Colony Ridge were invited to speak at the recent special session, only the developers themselves.
And the Texas House State Affairs Committee held a hearing on Colony Ridge but did not suggest any legislation.
Wayne Dolcefino, a former investigative television reporter, was hired three years ago by residents of Plum Grove, which abuts Colony Ridge, to dig up information about how the development was built.
The residents identified drainage problems but say that nothing has been done since.
He said that Abbott and Paxton’s intervention and the special session were just for show and would not lead to change.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Dolcefino told The Post Wednesday. “Abbott and everyone else all knew this was happening.
“This is probably just a lot of CYA. No one can come in and take ownership of it now. The genie can’t be put back in the bottle.”
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