How did these townhomes under construction on the northeast corner of Bayou and Baron streets in the Fifth Ward come by their extra-long, tongue-like driveways? It’s not exactly clear, but the reader who sent these pix of the project and its rather prominent culvert-leaping flatwork thinks the answer might have something to do with a willingness to build well past the property line — or at least a lack of familiarity with where the property line actually is. The orange complex across the street, in the background of the photo above, is the Kennedy Place Apartments. Here’s a view of the townhomes from that side, looking east:
Does this line up better with the street beyond? It appears to — but not if you take into account the tiny gutter drain at the corner, noted in this version of the photo:
It shows the edge of the street, independent of any grass or utility pole creep. Both appear to have wandered into the street right-of-way over time.
A document showing how lot lines on the corner were rejiggered in 2013, around the time the current owner bought the property, does indicate a slight jog in the property line, but one that would make Baron St. wider on the townhome site than in the neighboring block, not the other way around:
The same document provides this helpful review of the city’s setback rules for garage-front properties:
Photos: Swamplot inbox
Looking at the Google Street view, though, it does show a weird “jog” to the street width before anything was built on that stretch of street:
It’s like the city just gave up mid-way through constructing the street or had to cut down how much asphalt it was using.
Our fine city is consistently inconsistent. This should not be a surprise to anyone.
For the readers who can’t interpret a subdivision plat/ don’t know the subdivision process:
Baron St was 40′ Right of Way, minimum for single family development is 50′. So, half the requirement is dedicated with this plat (5″ , the other half will be dedicated when the property across the street is developed.
ROW IS NOT THE SAME AS STREET PAVING nor does dedicating Right of Way magically make the paving wider. The paving section of the street won’t likely be changed until street improvements are made down the road.
The most likely cause of the current jag is that Bayou St was repaved and the radius and paving of the Baron Street entry were done at that time.
The driveways are long because (a) the garage is set back 17′ off the new property line (b) the paving section of the street is small, relative to the amount of Right of Way. This is standard subdivision development, nothing special.
It looks like they’ve done the only thing they could because the street is not correctly laid in front of the units. It is pointless to wait for the city to fix it. When the city decides to update that street they’ll just have to cut the driveway a bit, no biggie.
Baron is one afterthought of a street, especially just west of there. It is set on the ridgeline, which must’ve been a rail bed in the past, with steep and eroding dropped off edges. It’s really only wide enough for one way, but it’s two way. Of course, there are no sidewalks and school kids (From Kennedy Apartments) have to share the lane with the vehicular traffic (Elementary School at the end of the street at Jensen. Currently, it is even more dicey, now that traffic, and Metro Buses, are detoured down Baron while Clinton is closed, one way, due to extensive sewer reconstruction.
I think Baron used to be a railroad track/right of way which might explain the street’s narrow width.
The city has said in our area that they plan to leave infrastructure improvements to the developer and they will not fund projects like expanding the road. As a resident I’m frustrated by the developer taking up so much of the road, but as a contractor myself, you make due with what the city gives you. This has been a chicken or the egg situation for infrastructure funding in a developing neighborhood and it looks like the egg is on the face of both the city and the developer on this one.
The only way to legally pour these driveways would be to permit them through the City of Houston–which means plans would have had to be submitted & approved–and inspections after the forming was done (but before the pour). So, unless the city dropped the ball at multiple points, these are probably too legit to quit.
I think I get it now, finally. Well, sort’a. Naturally the builders/designers just ratchet in the driveways from a looking-top-down approach. It’s like taking a trip somewhere. Do you stay at a pricey Resort or a cheapy-motel-one? I mean, if you’re visiting a destination then your accommodations are less the priority. But if the accommodations are the destination then it all matters. So, here we have builders/designers selling to people that do not actually care about the aesthetics of where they live. “Domicile” is just where they sleep so who gives an F about the fugly jog and storm culverts. And what’s worse is when you consider the dumbs who think they’re actually getting something important and relevant when they take the bait. What a total waste; so greedy.
I am confused.
Is someone expecting driveways to end at the city R.O.W. leaving the eight foot of muddy ditch for people to drive over.
Is it supposed to be some kind of marketing gimmick?
“Townhomes for JEEP lovers”
I think the driveways probably were put in at the direction of the city and passed inspection. It seems to be the goal of the traffic and transportation department (of the city of Houston) to make the driveways and side walks locations and appearances appear as randomly arranged as possible. It’s frequently against the rules to match the home next door.
It is just NUTS that a burgeoning city, set to reap the tax-rewards of this growth, can’t get its street / easement / / sidewalk / drainage shit pulled together.
These are rules / dimensions that ONLY government can enact and enforce because impartial and looking out for the greater good.
The bigger question is why this development was approved without sidewalks.
Here’s how you get to this point.
(i) Neighborhood gets built with gravel streets, ditch drainage.
(ii) City goes in and widens most of the streets in the neighborhood in the 1960’s. 40′ asphalt, curb and gutter. Baron misses out on the neighborhood-wide repave because it has a railroad track in the middle.
(iii) Railroad track gets abandoned, trackbed gets paved over, no one ever improves Baron.
(iv) Townhome developer comes in and wants to put in a driveway. Houston Infrastructure Design Manual says any culvert in City right-of-way has to be 24″ minimum. Developer’s engineer knows if he touches that old 60’s curb inlet he’ll have to replace it to current spec, better to match the flowline and save eight or ten large. Culverts go in and look huge because 24″ on top of the existing flowline is above the crown of the road.
(v) Swamplot readers are confused because the 60’s-era curb and gutter doesn’t match the existing right-of-way.
There is talk about development to make Baron a bike trail instead of a road. I believe these two townhomes have the only driveways along Baron street. If these plans ever come about I wonder what the city/homeowners are going to do.
@ 5th Ward Res:
…then these 2 will have extra long extra desirable driveways. And bicyclists will be dinging up their cars a lot.
Is it an optical illusion or does the driveway slope downwards into the garage due to the culvert bulge? Not a nice thing during a deluge.
@dana – I think it just gets wider but doesnt slope down.