The Woodlands board of directors discuss road laws, set incorporation planning meetings

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At an Aug. 22 meeting, The Woodlands Township board of directors discussed current road laws and how they could potentially affect the township if it holds a successful incorporation election.

Board Chairman Gordy Bunch said the matter needed to be discussed after the board received an email about road laws’ effects on the township and whether or not counties can perform road work without township consent.

Attorney Monty Acres said his understanding of state law and court rulings indicates the township would not have the authority to extend Woodlands Parkway into The Woodlands if it incorporates.

“Both Harris County and Montgomery County have county road laws,” Acres said. “They’re old—the Montgomery County road law was enacted in 1901. The Harris County road law was enacted in 1913. That road law makes it clear that cities have exclusive authority over their [public]roads, streets and alleys.”

Acres said the Harris County road law has been used on multiple occasions, as in Piney Point Village in 1972, where it was ruled the county could legally perform work on San Felipe Road. Acres said the difference in the Piney case was the city had previously signed an ordinance in 1955 to grant consent.

After examining both counties’ road laws, Acres said he believes the Montgomery County road law likely would not be used for The Woodlands.

“If the city incorporates, the city would incorporate as a general law city,” Acres said. “Based upon [The Woodlands] having more than 5,000 inhabitants, it would quickly be able to adopt home rule status … by approving a charter. That charter may contain any provision in it that is not prohibited by state law.”

Acres said the charter could contain a provision prohibiting a county from doing road work in a city without consent, which would protect The Woodlands if it incorporates.

No action was taken on the presentation.

In other business, the board agreed to hold incorporation planning meetings 6 p.m. on Sept. 25, Oct. 17, Oct. 23 and Dec. 11. Bunch made the recommendation for 6 p.m. starts so the meetings would be more accessible to the public.

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