Should The Woodlands consider incorporating into a township?
The Woodlands has long been a featured community in northern Houston. Originally founded in 1974 as a master-planned community, it was created within the borders of Montgomery County and unincorporated Harris County. Now a part of the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land Metropolitan area, its growth and prosperity has made it a popular destination for new home buyers. Situated outside of urban Houston, it’s frequented by shoppers visiting the Woodlands Mall, while the area has also lured in many corporate campuses over the years.
Despite its popularity, The Woodlands has remained unincorporated. Despite having 116,000 residents and being considered legally a Township by Texas law, it has remained an unincorporated master-planned community. However, that may all be poised to change if voters approve of incorporating, according to Houston Public Media. Whether they want to, however, remains to be seen.
Incorporation into a township would have its benefits. After incorporation, The Woodlands would become more independent of surrounding Montgomery County. However, it would also exclude the possibility of ever being annexed by the City of Houston or the City of Conroe. Whether that is a direction the residents want is something that will have to be debated and voted on in the near future.
Part of the consequence of incorporation is that it is likely The Woodlands would have to independently provide additional services to local residents. That would increase the costs to locals and potentially cause an increase in the local tax rate. The counterargument made by proponents of incorporation is that The Woodlands is already providing 75 percent of the city’s services, and local authorities even provide services that they’re not required to under the law.
Previously, the city conducted an analysis of what the consequences would be if The Woodlands decided to incorporate. On one hand, advocates for incorporation argued that such a move would make it possible for the city to have more control over its roads. As it stands, The Woodlands doesn’t have much of a voice when it comes to discussions of traffic. Consequently, traffic is diverted through the city by larger Montgomery County. Incorporation would allow The Woodlands to have greater control over the roadways that run through it. On the other hand, the 2012 report on incorporation indicated that taxes would increase by as much as 70 percent should The Woodlands become a township.
Current proponents argue that the original township study was flawed. However, the decision to incorporate will fall to voters in the end. City leaders plan to host public meetings and get feedback from local residents in the lead up to any vote on incorporation. The city will also be completing its newest study into the pros and cons of becoming a township, which they plan to complete by early in 2019. After that, it will be up to residents to make the final call on whether to proceed on to township.