Montgomery County Commissioners Court hears The Woodlands incorporation update, supports new district court

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Montgomery County Commissioners Court received a status update on the incorporation plan for The Woodlands Township and voted to support the creation of a new county district court Tuesday morning, Feb. 12.

Plans for incorporation

Gordy Bunch, chairman of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors, presented an update to county commissioners on the township’s incorporation plan, which would require a partnership to transition county-provided services to the future city if incorporation moves forward.

According to Bunch, the incorporation planning study began in earnest in 2018 and is currently about halfway complete.

Bunch said there is no anticipated date for a vote on the matter, though he said it will likely be during a November election in order to get a stronger turnout and a representation of what the majority of the citizens of The Woodlands want.

“This isn’t about [whether]incorporation is good or bad,” Bunch said. “The decision doesn’t reside with me or you. It resides with our co-constituents. All we are asking for today is if our co-constituents choose to incorporate … that we as the current governments have a transition plan in place that allows that to occur.”

For example, under the plan presented by Bunch, services such as roads currently provided by the county would continue to be provided by the county for the first year after incorporation, and then taken on by the new city.

Bunch said because The Woodlands Township is unincorporated, it also does not have the same access to funding as a city in case of flooding, and it is unable to enforce ordinances.

“As a township, we are not in a position of strength to actually advocate for direct funds to flood mitigation at our level,” Bunch said. “We live in the woods. We had the Bastrop fires come strikingly close to our hometown…we can’t keep people from fireworks or open fires. We have a community that expects better.”

Future steps discussed by members of commissioners court at the meeting include planning transition workshops involving residents, county and township representatives.

Supporting the creation of a new district court

District 3 Commissioner James Noack stated while he had been originally opposed to the creation of a new district court in Montgomery County, he is now fully in support of its creation after receiving favorable recommendations from senior leadership in Austin.

“I was opposed to the resolution last time because I thought we should wait for this court to make that decision because we’re the ones that are ultimately going to be budgeting for it,” Noack said. “Just last week, we found out it looks favorable in Austin, and I’m happy to be supportive of the issue this time around.”

As Community Impact Newspaper previously reported, the need for the court comes from an increasing population and number of caseloads judges are seeing. Instituting the new court will not require property development, as there is already office space available, officials have said.

Commissioners Court voted unanimously to support the resolution for creating the new court, which is will be added in the summer of 2020 if approved by state Legislature.

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