East Shore residents, developer Howard Hughes reach compromise for Mitchell Island development

Mitchell Island East Shore
A bridge connects the East Shore community to the island known locally as Mitchell Island on Lake Woodlands. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)

A bridge connects the East Shore community to the island known locally as Mitchell Island on Lake Woodlands. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)

After several weeks of discussion, East Shore residents and the Howard Hughes Corp. late Oct. 19 released a statement setting limits on the future development of a 22-acre island in the community’s midst on Lake Woodlands.

The island, known locally at Mitchell Island, was the subject of debate in September when residents became aware of plans from the Howard Hughes Corp. to increase the density of the planned development on the island from 19 units to 58 units. Located within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city of Houston, the plans for the replat went before the Houston Planning Commission.

The joint statement, describing a “Good Faith Agreement for the prudent development of the island where American Bald Eagles are present,” sets a limit of 30 units to be developed on the island.

Residents opposed to high-density development there—Citizens for Eagle Island, in the release—have cited concern for eagles seen regularly in the vicinity as one of several reasons they oppose the development. Increased traffic and strain on local infrastructure are among the other concerns residents have listed in public meetings.

According to the release, Howard Hughes has committed to revising its development plan to have 25-30 single-family homes with green space set aside for the eagles.

East Shore resident Tami Houston, the president of the Citizens for Eagle Island group, said in the joint statement the development recommendation will be presented to The Woodlands Development Standards Committee at its Nov. 4 meeting.

“Having an environmentally sound ecosystem on the Island is clearly in the best interest of our entire community; both now and well into the future,” she said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the Howard Hughes team in good faith and our group looks forward to being kept in-the-loop with real time development drawings and updates.”

From the developer’s side, Heath Melton, the executive vice president for master-planned communities for the Howard Hughes Corp., said he believes the revised application for the development is in line with the company’s history of working with residents and community groups to find solutions.

“Following several meaningful and productive conversations with the East Shore residents, we made the decision to change our plan from 58 to a maximum of 30 lots," Melton said in the release. "As a demonstration of our commitment to this reduction, we have submitted a revised application for an amended Initial Land Use Designation (ILUD) to the Development Standards Committee of The Woodlands.”

The topic is on the agenda for the 6 p.m. Oct. 22 meeting of The Woodlands Township board of directors.
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.