Montgomery City Council appoints new Planning and Zoning Commission, Economic Development Corp. members

Council Member Tom Cronin abstained from voting on new members of the Montgomery Economic Development Corp. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Council Member Tom Cronin abstained from voting on new members of the Montgomery Economic Development Corp. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Council Member Tom Cronin abstained from voting on new members of the Montgomery Economic Development Corp. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery City Council appointed several familiar faces as well as newcomers to boards that serve the city, despite some confusion among council members.

At its first meeting of 2020 on Jan. 14, City Council appointed Tom Cronin, Arnette Easley and Dan Walker to the Montgomery Economic Development Corp. According to the corporation’s webpage, it serves to promote and enhance economic and employment opportunities in the city. The members will serve for two years.

Cronin, who is also a member of City Council, recused himself from the vote, in part because he was nominated and also because another applicant, Kristen Billingsley, said she is in litigation with Cronin and asked he not participate in the vote.

Council Member John Champagne argued Cronin only had to recuse himself from the discussion of Billingsley but eventually relented, and council voted unanimously to appoint Cronin, Easley and Walker. Easley previously served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, and Walker worked as a land developer for 22 years and a peace officer for 23 years.

Council also appointed new members to the Montgomery Planning and Zoning Commission. According to its webpage, the commission is in charge of “interpreting and administering the Subdivision Ordinance, the Zoning Ordinance, and the Historic Preservation District Ordinance.”

Of the applicants, council unanimously approved Britnee Ghutzman and Carol Langley. All but Council Member TJ Wilkerson voted for Jeffery Waddell.

Council Member Rebecca Huss noted that Ghutzman is a relative newcomer, having lived in the city for only two years. According to her application, Ghutzman has led research by the Houston-Galveston Area Council into affordable housing and worked as a commercial real estate agent for four years.

“For years we have talked about how as council we have wished we had candidates that were in the city limits so that we would have the opportunity to have the tax dollars allocated or spent ... by people who lived in the city limits,” Huss said. “I think that we have a lot of really excellent candidates to choose from.”

Langley has served the city for 24 years, according to her application, and has worked with the Montgomery Historical Society. Waddell has experience in property management and said in his application his areas of interest for the city are downtown improvements, code enforcement and outdoor recreation.

Development and elections

Council also approved a variance for Walker Montgomery Community Development Corp. The organization works to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals and families. The variance allows the organization to replat its lot at the end of Baja Street and will allow it to build four homes instead of just three.

Council also approved an ordinance for a May 2 election in conjunction with the Montgomery County elections. The council seats up for election will be Mayor Sara Countryman’s, Champagne’s Place 2 seat and Huss’ Place 4 seat.

By Andy Li

Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now covers the Conroe Independent School District, Montgomery City Council and transportation.


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