Oak Ridge North City marks 40 years on the map as municipality

From left, municipal Judge Marilyn Rodgers, Oak Ridge North council members Bill Neill and John Planchard, Secretary Sandy Coleman, Mayor Fred Wagner and Council Member Tom Coale celebrate an earlier city anniversary.

From left, municipal Judge Marilyn Rodgers, Oak Ridge North council members Bill Neill and John Planchard, Secretary Sandy Coleman, Mayor Fred Wagner and Council Member Tom Coale celebrate an earlier city anniversary.


Oak Ridge North has faced its share of change and development over the years, but its leaders, including Mayor Jim Kuykendall, believe the roughly 900-acre municipality still holds true to its small-town ideals while planning ahead for growth.


The city was incorporated Jan. 20, 1979, around five years after neighboring Shenandoah did the same. The borders of Houston were also expanding north at the time, said John Planchard, a founding alderman and Oak Ridge North’s third mayor.


“Houston was creeping up this way, and the people were afraid that they would be annexed,” Planchard said. “We were incorporated basically to avoid being incorporated by Houston and to provide police protection and city ordinances, some kind of local control.”


Planchard said he recalled a feeling of excitement in the city after its establishment. Six people ran for mayor, and many more ran for one of five alderman spots. A town marshal was also elected, and a secretary was hired, filling out the first administration.


“We were just civic-minded people that wanted to get involved,” Planchard said. “Rather than sit around and complain about how things are, we rolled up our sleeves and tried to jump in and see what we could do to make this community a better place.”


Highlights over the years included the city taking over public works services from the Oak Ridge Municipal Utility District, creating its own police department, adoption of a city administrator—and later, city manager—form of government, setting the city sales tax and the adoption of a long-term comprehensive plan, Planchard said.


The city’s population has grown slightly since its founding, but the most notable changes have come from booming development in the area and across I-45.


Oak Ridge North’s population grew from less than 2,500 residents in 1980 to more than 3,000 by 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Kuykendall said the arrival of new businesses has helped the city, while at the same time, growth has created new planning challenges, such as the ongoing effort to realign Robinson Road as well as challenges in maintaining the city’s culture.


“We’ve become more serious about our zoning to protect our small-town image,” Kuykendall said. “Unfortunately and fortunately, everything has grown up around us. … So we’re all-in right now.”


Kuykendall said the city’s appeal has remained in its welcoming atmosphere, security and ability to plan ahead.


“One of the main reasons our city was created was to have a safe environment to raise families, and that’s who we still continue to be,” he said. “We’re not just governing for today; we’re doing just like our founding fathers did. We are governing for today, but we’re planning for tomorrow. I’m very hopeful for the future of Oak Ridge North.”


 
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 and is a reporter for The Woodlands edition.


MOST RECENT

Houston City Hall in rainbow lighting
Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce celebrates five years of service

The organization is open to all and serves members throughout the Greater Houston area.

Montgomery County is set to receive its largest first-dose allocation during the week of March 1. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County set to receive largest vaccine allocation yet in first week of March

Nearly 20,000 vaccine doses were allocated to the county's two vaccine hubs and several additional providers for the week of March 1.

A coronavirus vaccine is given at Memorial Hermann's mass vaccine clinic Feb. 26. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Memorial Hermann closes out 2nd round of vaccines with 7,000 distributed among 2 clinics

The clinic will continue operations through 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

The new Fort Bend Epicenter multipurpose facility could be used as a spot for trade shows and sporting events, could act as a large-scale shelter for county residents in an emergency and more. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Large multipurpose complex coming to Fort Bend County; Sugar Land to widen University Blvd. and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

The Woodlands Township board of directors met Feb. 24 to discuss items including winter storm recovery and a financial report. (Screenshot via The Woodlands Township)
The Woodlands officials criticize county officials over CARES Act funds management; commissioner fires back

The Woodlands Township board of directors criticized Montgomery County's methods of allocating federal coronavirus aid at the board's Feb. 24 meeting, calling the $244,000 the township received a "slap in the face."

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather. (Community Impact staff)
Q&A: Greater Houston Builders Association President Keith Luechtefeld discusses power, plumbing, frozen pipes after Winter Storm Uri

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather.

Harris County ESD No. 11 commissioners met for a meeting Feb. 25. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County ESD No. 11 begins construction process on new facility

District offiicials have said they hope Phase 1 of construction will be complete by August.

Winter Storm Uri led to closures across the Greater Houston area during the third week of February. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
‘It’s been a rough year for us’: Expert explains economic effects of winter storm, ongoing pandemic in Houston region

“It's been a rough year for us economically; it's been a rough year for us public health wise. It's just been a rough year for us psychologically—first the coronavirus and then the freeze," said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research with the Greater Houston Partnership.

Gracie Barra The Woodlands relocated to a new training center on Richards Road earlier this year. (Courtesy Gracie Barra The Woodlands)
New cosmetic services, MMA gym: 5 recent business updates in The Woodlands and northern Spring

Several businesses have recently opened in or relocated into The Woodlands area.

In addition to produce, Theiss Farms offers grass-fed beef. The family’s herd of cattle grazes in a pasture near the intersection of Spring Cypress and Stuebner Airline roads. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Theiss Farms Market owner on winter storm: 'I knew everything was going to die, and it did'

Nothing could have prepared local farmers for last week's winter storm, Theiss Farms Market co-owner Dwayne Theiss said.