The Woodlands-area groups, officials weigh in on incorporation before Nov. 2 vote

Early voting is underway for the incorporation election in The Woodlands, and Election Day is Nov. 2. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Early voting is underway for the incorporation election in The Woodlands, and Election Day is Nov. 2. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Early voting is underway for the incorporation election in The Woodlands, and Election Day is Nov. 2. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Early voting continues through Oct. 29 and Election Day is Nov. 2 for area elections, including the incorporation question on the ballot in The Woodlands. Voters in The Woodlands will have two questions to vote on: whether to incorporate into a Type A general law city with a tax rate of $0.2231 per $100 valuation; and whether to transfer the rights, powers, functions and responsibilities of the township to a new city with the authority to issue bonds and impose taxes. Both questions must pass to create a new city. The Woodlands Township is currently a special-purpose district.

Since the election was announced in mid-August, community groups and leaders have spoken on the topic, with some endorsing the move and other criticizing it. Members of the township's board of directors have also offered remarks, though they are not able to endorse an election issue in their official capacities.

On Oct. 26, U.S. Rep Kevin Brady, who resides in The Woodlands, released a statement that he opposes incorporation. Brady said in the statement he filed the first bill in 1993 to prevent Houston from annexing the community. He listed concerns in his statement including costs and bureaucracy.

Here is a look at a few area opinions on the topic.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands

Rep. Brady released a statement Oct. 26 outlining his opposition to incorporation. Brady is a resident of The Woodlands.

"Today, as we weigh the best form of governance for the future, I’m convinced incorporation doesn’t make sense for The Woodlands. How does bigger government, higher costs and double-taxing ourselves for roads and law enforcement make us a better community than we already are? ... It’s a cruel truth that Washington dollars come with Washington rules. Federal funding often includes rigid mandates that dictate how an incorporated city should look and act. These one-size-fits-all mandates can supersede local control, tying the hands of local officials. It's the biggest complaint I hear from city leaders in my congressional district.

For example, right now suburban communities across America are battling an alarming push from Congress to force incorporated cities to abandon local zoning laws that encourage single-family homes. In this “war on suburbs,” Washington, D.C. planners are demanding dense urban living with fewer homes and yards, replacing them with more apartments and multifamily housing. To be fair, this may be a solution in large cities facing severe housing shortages and homelessness like San Francisco and New York. But this mandate would be disastrous in The Woodlands where we already offer a thoughtful balance of homes and housing for singles, workers, families and seniors that works beautifully for our community."

Julie Turner, president, Texas Patriots PAC

The conservative political action committee has endorsed incorporation.

“To preserve the quality of life in The Woodlands, residents should choose a governance structure that will strengthen and ensure local control—to become an incorporated city with standing to participate in regional planning and take legal action if necessary, rather than continuing as a township largely governed by outside interests. ... The Woodlands Township is not recognized as eligible for federal funds in many cases. Losing The Woodlands’ share of those funds relative to surrounding communities puts The Woodlands at a serious disadvantage for needed large-scale community projects.”

J.J. Hollie, president and CEO, The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce

The regional chamber of commerce released a statement Sept. 24 opposing incorporation.

"After hearing from many experts, Montgomery County commissioners, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and many members of the business community about incorporation, we believe to become incorporated at this time is not a good idea for our business community or residents. Incorporation is a complex issue that requires more education and planning. We believe there is no reason to rush to become a city. An important decision such as this cannot be undone. Timing of incorporation should be entirely up to our business community and residents to ensure they fully understand the transition plan and impacts."

Dr. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs

A member of The Woodlands Township board of directors seeking re-election this year, Sekula-Gibbs has endorsed incorporation in her candidate messaging as a private citizen. In a letter dated Sept. 13 on her candidate website, she outlined some of the reasons.

"The mayor and city council won't receive a salary. Residents will gain local control of roads, thoroughfares, rights of way, speed limits, parking, land planning and development, noise and fireworks, and more. Ordinance can stop clearcutting of trees and panhandling, set stronger drainage standards, and enact a property tax freeze for seniors and disabled persons. The city could assume 11 Woodlands MUDs ... achieving economy of scale, and allowing a unified focus on water supply, wastewater management, flooding and subsidence."

George's Coffee Club

A group named for The Woodlands' founder George Mitchell endorsed a "no" vote in an Oct. 1 statement.

"As a matter of documented policy, the Club—whose membership is comprised of 64 members, many of whom worked with Mr. Mitchell from the very beginning of The Woodlands ... does not take public positions on political matters. ... However, in this unique situation the vast majority of club members feel so strongly that there simply are too many unanswered questions at this point in time to support incorporation now,"
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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