Kemah Trash Dump

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Imagine buying land for your dream house only to learn you just bought land on top of a garbage dump! That’s the latest drama unfolding in Kemah…

And the folks who sold the damaged land are government officials – including former Mayor Matt Wiggins!

Oh, the mud in the city of Kemah runs so deep.

And we are using this watery excavation to expose just one of the latest dramas.

“Pretty sure this this is broken glass not a rock,” states Marco Ramonda.

Marco Ramonda is a former Kemah cop who is now in the pressure washing business.

And he used his expertise to unearth the nasty truth about an acre of land he bought in Kemah two years ago on Delesandri Lane.

“My original intention was to build warehousing, and that’s not going to happen any time soon. I just have a tax liability at this point,” continued Ramonda.

So what was Marco trying to show us?

“I had a hard time believing that there was garbage six feet under the top of my land until I dug and found garbage six feet under my land,” said Ramonda.

On the day we watched the machine trying to pull up the concealed trash underneath it got clogged.

“Alright inside here we have a piece of glass that clogged my nozzle. I am not sticking my hand in there to dig it out,” said Ramonda.

But once that glass was cleared Ramonda may have found the best evidence this land may be unusable.

Marco’s pressure washer breaks through to a hole.

“I have to wonder if this land’s going to shift because 5 to 6 feet below ground, it’s just all garbage,” states Ramonda.

Suddenly the water being pumped into the ground starts to drain away in what sure looks like an empty cavity below.

“That water is draining down into the trash and everything else that is down there,” explained Ramonda.

Andrea Palacio asked, “How pissed off are you?”

“You have no idea.  I want to burn this place to the ground,” responds Robert Kelly.

Ramonda was going to use his property for a warehouse, but his neighbors Robert Kelly and his wife, they planned to build a forever home on the half an acre they bought in 2021. Kelly is a former Kemah city councilmember.

“We wanted to build a house where we could retire to as well as a shop that I can use for working on my cars and my car collection and things like that,” expressed Kelly.

After spending 109 thousand dollars on the land the Kelly’s spent another 135 thousand preparing the site for their home construction.

“And while they were here, they started digging with the excavator. We were out here and we could hear them digging through what sounded like glass,” recalls Kelly.

That was the sound of shattered dreams.

“And then we were told by one of our neighbors down the street that this used to be the city dump until the mid-sixties,” states Kelly.  

That helps explain why Kelly found this gem on the land, a whiskey bottle that dates back to the twenties. That’s the 1920s. A century ago.

Kelly began digging deeper and sure enough the Delesandri property he found is on the list of closed landfills on the website of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

“I had to be the grim reaper that informed every one of my neighbors that it was a landfill,” expressed Kelly.

So, who’s the culprit that sold this tarnished piece property to these unsuspecting buyers?

Andrea Palacio asked, “Who do you blame about this?”

“This is WCID #12 and their board all the way, as well as the realtor that handled the deal Alana Croker with Keller Williams, expressed Kelly.

That’s right, Ramonda and Kelly both bought their properties from the government.

From WCID #12, they run the water and fire service in Kemah. And what’s worse, there’s plenty of evidence we’ve found that proves WCID #12 knew the property was a landfill but didn’t tell these folks.

And Kelly was a former city councilmember.

“I went back and reviewed all of that documentation and there was no documentation whatsoever. There was there’s actually a checkbox on the form that says if you know, it’s a landfill previous landfill or hazardous site or anything like that, none of that was done,” recalls Kelly.

We’ve got a copy of the contract. It says it in black and white.

Marco says he wasn’t told either.

 “I feel that I’ve been wronged,” expressed Ramonda.

If you’ve been keeping up with the never-ending chaos in Kemah, you know we just can’t get enough of Mayor Matt Wiggins who was president of WCID #12 at the time and the architect of this now suspect real estate deal.

And it was Wiggins who decided to use Alana Croker as the real estate broker, claiming that she’s the only real estate agent in town. Which isn’t really true.

The WCID tried to sell the Delesandri property in one 4.6 tract of land in 2020 but that deal fell through and we now know why.

As part of that real estate deal WCID had to pay paid for a Phase 1 environmental study in September 2020, which found Kemah still had all kinds of junk on the land. Old satellite photos show worn tracks of dump trucks.

The study concluded by saying quote “the items observed and unobserved are considered an environmental concern for the site.”

That’s why the 1st prospective buyer backed out of the deal.

Look at this November 1st, 2020 email from Croker to WCID #12’s legal counsel and board members.

“The buyers have decided they don’t want to move forward. For what they want to do with the property as a residential home, the landfill really bothers them,” reads the email.

WCID12 then decided to break up the 4.6-acre tract on Delesandri into smaller pieces.

They had already done a phase two environmental study completed in October of that year.

That study found a higher level of arsenic but said it did not appear to pose an environmental concern to the subject property.

If you were going to buy that property you’d want to know anyway, but the WCID failed to mention it to the folks who were buying all this property.

“No, I was not told,” said Todd Alexander.

Including Todd Alexander who was buying a half-acre too from WCID #12.

“Actually, was going to build a house, but that’s out the window. There’s no way I’m putting a house on that property,” states Alexander.

State law requires notice in real property records that the land was a landfill.

But we looked, it’s not there on this property. And there’s no evidence WCID, Matt Wiggins, or his friend the real estate broker said a word.

Alana Croker wasn’t just WCID #12’s real estate broker and the beneficiary of their land deals. She has been Matt Wiggins’ personal real estate broker.

But in the Delesandri land deal, she was Robert Kelly’s real estate agent too, meaning she got all of the commission on that deal.

“She failed to work in my best interest as my realtor to find out everything and make sure that. The property was properly disclosed,” expressed Kelly.

 “I think she took the money and run, but there again, she’s got a good history with people in this town and she’s made a lot of money through people in this town,” continued Kelly.

Including matt Wiggins, Croker benefited from his personal real estate deals too.

The first time Wiggins was WCID #12 president the agency chose to sell Croker some of its property.

It’s where Keller Williams Waterside sits today, on property she bought from WCID #12 back in 2006.

In a deposition Croker was asked, “Did the fact that Mr. Wiggins was on the water board at that time have any effect on your purchase of the property?”

“He let me know that it was becoming available for sale them looking place to do an office and he thought it might be a good investment for me, which it has been,” claimed Croker.

The assessed value of the 1.5 acres she bought from WCID #12 has gone from being worth 200 thousand to 1.8 million dollars in the past 10 years.

It’s nice to get tipped off to a good real estate deal don’t you think?

Those depositions, they were taken in lawsuits Matt Wiggins filed against a number of Kemah homeowners who complained about his real estate deals after hurricane Ike.

Their relationship was explored a little further at the time, turns out Wiggins paid her personal taxes.

“Do you see where the county reported that Matthew D. Wiggins paid your taxes for he tax year 2006,” asked the attorney.

 Croker replied, “Ok.”

“Did he loan you the money and did you pay him back,” continued the attorney.

 “I have paid him back,” claimed Croker.

That real estate deal back then raised eyebrows back then because of possible conflicts and this Delesandri deal with Wiggins involved, it deserves even more scrutiny.

“Can I get the $250,000 of money that I’ve invested into this worthless piece of land? Can I ever get any of that back? I don’t know,” stated Kelly.

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