The Woodlands Township delays vote on Alight tax abatement, citing conflicts of interest

The Woodlands Township deferred the vote on a tax abatement request from the company Alight Solutions for a proposed new office building and parking garage until April 18 due to the lack of a quorum, or a sufficient number of members present who could vote on the matter.

Several dozen residents of the Founders Reserve development, located alongside the proposed building site, attended the March 21 meeting to express opposition to the plan. Residents said the project will disrupt the protected wooded environment where their homes are located.

“Many homeowners paid a premium, as the area now in question as the area was marketed as a protected reserve,” said Tiffany Dunne, a Founders Reserve resident who spoke at the meeting. “The concrete parking lot currently planned for this project would begin just 30 feet from their back doors.”

Dunne asked the board to consider a solid privacy fence in keeping with the neighborhood aesthetics and to look for a solution to preserve the tree canopy if the project moves forward.

According to information on the township website, Alight’s lease for its current location is expiring in March 2020, and the company proposed to partner with the Howard Hughes Corp. to build a 180,000-square-foot facility with a 115,000-square-foot parking garage on New Trails Drive. The company is currently located on Lakeside Boulevard. Building a new facility would retain 950 jobs in the area for the next 10 years, according to the company.

Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved the abatement Feb. 26, a step the township typically requires before approving one itself, according to information on the agenda.

The board failed to reach a quorum because one member, Brian Boniface, was absent, and three other members—Gordy Bunch, John Brown and Bruce Rieser—cited conflicts of interest due to related investments or because of family members working for the company.

The abatement, if granted, would apply to the certified appraised value of the property in excess of its base year value, $3,453,980, according to information on the township website. The proposed abatement would be 100 percent of that nearly $3.5 million base year value through 2026, and it would decline by 20 percent each year through 2029, the final year of the abatement agreement, according to the agenda item.

The total value of the land and improvements after construction is estimated at $30.4 million, according to information on the township website.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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