01/30/17 1:45pm

Map of TCEQ Shadow Creek Ranch study area

The city of Pearland’s Odor Task Force is hosting a meeting on February 8th to give some updates on the saga of the Shadow Creek Ranch stench, the Chronicle‘s Margaret Kadifa reports. The map above shows industrial sites noted by the TCEQ in the vicinity of the master-planned community during the environmental agency’s long-running search for the source of the odor. Early last summer the come-and-go smell was finally officially linked to emissions from the slowly rising Blue Ridge Landfill, which sits across FM 521 from the subdivision, just outside the Pearland border in Fresno, TX. The agency says that 81 investigations had been launched in response to more than 1,900 complaints from the neighborhood, as of January 1st; TCEQ started sending enforcement letters to the landfill in October, and a class action lawsuit on behalf of area residents was filed in November.

Map of industrial sites and air sampling locations around Shadow Creek Ranch: TCEQ

Blue Ridge Mountains
03/23/16 1:45pm

Shadow Creek Ranch aerial photo, Pearland, TX, 77584

What could be causing the mysterious unpleasant odor Pearland residents have been reporting through TCEQ complaint channels since August of last year — primarily from the Shadow Creek Ranch subdivision (shown above) between 288 and FM 521 south of Clear Creek? TCEQ’s Andrew Keese spoke with the Houston Chronicle recently about the 26 previous and ongoing investigations, which are triggered whenever a finger is pointed at a new possible emitter of the smell. So far, Keese says, no odors have been officially detected that qualify as a ‘nuisance condition’, but he encourages residents to use the TCEQ’s odor log form to help the search effort by describing “the precise character of the odor, [relevant] weather conditions, and times” when the smell is noted.

Before you ask, yes: TCEQ knows about the 60-ft tall mounds of garbage right across FM 521 from the subdivision, at Republic Waste Service’s Blue Ridge Landfill (visible in the bottom left corner of the above photo as a pinkish blob).  Pearland residents previously sought to keep the landfill from more than doubling in acreage and nearly tripling in height (and blocking the operation of several Doppler Radar stations in the process). The landfill (which started accepting garbage several years before Shadow Creek Ranch’s developers broke ground nearby) will eventually get to pile as high as the 170 ft. allowed by its expanded TCEQ permit — but per a 2009 settlement agreement with the city of Pearland it will have to wait until 2021 before rising to only 130 ft., and wait another 8 years after that to reach for its full vertical potential.


Sniffing Out the Culprits in Pearland
06/01/09 12:03pm

You saw the video. Now comes the detail: OffCite has more on recent Rice University architecture grad Lysle Oliveros’s proposal for turning that putrid pile of garbage next door to Shadow Creek Ranch into an exciting outdoor playplace! The fun comes in 3 phases.

In phase 1, trash haulers would start a new pile with each year’s take, completing a mound every 12 months:

Each monument compared to the next would create an awareness of the massive amount of disposed consumer goods. For example, the 2008 “index” created by Hurricane Ike debris would have been 400 feet tall.

Too bad about the City of Pearland’s recent agreement with Republic Services limiting those piles to a mere 130 ft. Oh, well — just wait until 2029!


05/21/09 3:35pm

Shadow Creek Ranch residents worried that the Blue Ridge Landfill just across FM 521 would turn into a 170-ft.-tall mountain of smelly garbage can breathe deeply again, now that the City of Pearland has reached a settlement agreement with the landfill’s operator, Republic Services (formerly Allied Waste).

Among the most important changes: the landfill will be limited to its current height of 60 ft. for 12 more years. Will that be enough time for Shadow Creek Ranch’s homebuilders and Las Vegas developers to sell off whatever remaining inventory they own in the master-planned community? After that, the pile of trash will be restricted to hillock status, at 130 ft. tall — “for an additional 8 years.”

Also good for home sales: Garbage trucks will be banned from using Shadow Creek Parkway west of FM 521!

More details of the agreement from City Attorney Darrin Coker, quoted in The Journal of Pearland:


05/12/09 10:20am

That gonna-be-170-ft.-high pile of trash going up across the street from Shadow Creek Ranch? Nothing a little smart landscaping can’t handle. Rice architecture grad student Lysle Oliveros’s proposal for the Blue Ridge Landfill makes for a rockin’ video. And Houston needs a mountain, anyway.

Video: Richie Gelles

01/22/09 4:19pm

To counter the all-shutterings edition of Openings and Closings posted on Swamplot earlier this week, here’s a mostly debuts version:

  • Opening: With the opening of Bryan Caswell’s Little Big’s, Montrose’s late-night restaurant row is complete — at least on weekends, when the burger shack will be open until 3 a.m. Writes Katharine Shilcutt in Eating Our Words:

    In addition to sliders, fries and shakes, Little Big’s also offers wine and beer at extremely reasonable prices, which will all but ensure their popularity. Once the large, welcoming patio is completed, it’s a sure bet that this will be the new hot spot in Montrose.

    This Little Big’s is in the former Ming’s Cafe on Montrose just north of Westheimer; the next one will be in Hermann Park.

There’s more!


07/21/08 1:03pm

Rooftops and Sidewalk in Shadow Creek Ranch, Pearland, Texas

The contested case hearing for the proposed expansion of the Blue Ridge Landfill on the western edge of Shadow Creek Ranch has been postponed — to October or November at the earliest — reports Natalie Torentinos in the Journal of Pearland. But the the buzzards are already circling:

Like passing dark clouds, incomparable and scary odors have traveled through Jamie Lee’s neighborhood in Shadow Creek Ranch, the smell seeping through the garage, laundry, even the water faucet. “This morning at 8 a.m. I left to take my daughters to school, and I could barely breathe outside,” Lee said. “It was nauseating.” . . .

Additional issues are geology and drainage –regarding contaminated groundwater and increased flooding, respectively. The landfill is attracting scavenger animals such as vultures, seagulls and rodents. [Attorney Richard] Morrison showed pictures taken of buzzards perching on the roofs of several homes, located in Green Valley Estates north of the landfill.

Allied Waste wants its pile of trash to expand to 784 acres and reach a height of 170 feet. Current restrictions limit the landfill to 302 acres and 60 feet.

Photo of Shadow Creek Ranch: Flickr user Sean Brady [license]

04/20/07 9:59am

Some Other Landfill

Residents of Shadow Creek Ranch now have some unlikely allies in their fight to prevent an adjacent landfill from expanding into their, uh . . . airspace: TV weathermen.

That’s right: the real problem with Allied Waste wanting to expand its Blue Ridge landfill in Fresno from 302 to 784 acres—and increase its allowable maximum height from 58 to 170 feet—isn’t any toxic stench that might upset nearby residents, but the fact that it will block your TV newspeople from scaring you to death with alarming reports of giant hurricanes sneaking up on Houston from the Gulf.

That one-and-a-quarter-square-mile, 16-story tower of waste will block the Doppler radar installations of Channels 11, 13, and 26, which are located a few miles to the northwest. Sounds kinda picky, huh?

It may be too late for the weathermen to help new residents of the “#1 selling master-planned community in the Houston-Pearland Metroplex” stop their already smelly neighbor, since Fort Bend County and Missouri City have signed agreements not to oppose landfill-expansion plans. And TCEQ has already given its go-ahead to the giant heap of trash.

Seems it’s a little easier for developers to build towers outside Beltway 8—and you can build with cheaper materials, too.

Many residents of neighborhoods surrounding the landfill, such as Shadow Creek Ranch and Fresno, say what’s at stake for them is maintaining the value of their homes or their ability to obtain clean drinking water, and to maintain an acceptable quality of life in the face of what some believe will become at best a stinking nuisance.

. . . Allied has acknowledged, that in November 2005 a “statistically significant exceedance of barium was detected at the landfill.” The metallic element can act as a powerful nerve poison.

Detection of barium amounts to evidence the landfill already is leaking, [Environmental Attorney Richard] Morrison said in comments to TCEQ, and may threaten the drinking water supply in Fresno. He said more than 80 water wells are located within a mile of the proposed landfill expansion.

Allied Project Development Manager Gary McCuistion has stated that the company is “very confident” the increased presence of barium represents a naturally occurring event. [emphasis added]

After the jump, an aerial photo from the Shadow Creek Ranch website showing that pinkish, naturally occurring growth just across Almeda.