Bridging the gaps

The city of Conroe is set to expand by 1,564 acres as annual annexations continue for the fifth consecutive year.

This year, the city is annexing 12 tracts of land, including four residential tracts, one commercial tract, three undeveloped tracts, a landfill, a school, the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and a stretch of I-45.

None of the tracts has more than 100 rooftops within its boundaries, and the annexations go into effect Dec. 31, said Nancy Mikeska, Conroe assistant director of community development. The new tracts will not require the creation of new police or fire districts but benefit first responders when servicing an area.

“Typically, because we have working agreements with all of the surrounding agencies, we will respond to emergencies but then when we get there we are not in charge of the scene,” Mikeska said. “So there is an issue of tax dollars being spent on people [who] didn’t help pay for the services and who is in control of the scene, and that can be very important in investigations or fires.”

Some of the annexations bridge the gap from existing city limits to communities that may be annexed in the near future. One of those communities is Stanley Lake, Mikeska said.

“[The] Saddle Surry [tract] happens to be the next piece adjacent to our city limits and the next piece down our Hwy. 105 corridor,” Mikeska said. “There is a very large municipal utility district [Stanley Lake MUD] just past April Sound [that] will be annexed in the very near future. I don’t know how near in the future.”

The city stopped annexations just short of Stanley Lake because the community has more than 100 rooftops and requires a three-year process like the one undertaken to annex April Sound last year.

Newly annexed residents will pay a Conroe property tax rate of 42 cents per $100 valuation, which amounts to $420 for a $100,000 home. However, resident may pay less in monthly taxes if their utility district was disbanded and had a tax rate that was higher than the city’s rate, Mikeska said.

Conroe annexationsConroe Mayor Webb Melder said annexing communities near the Conroe city limits is necessary to grow the city economically and to distribute the cost of maintaining city services and facilities that are used by those residents.

“When you have a lot of people [who] live around your city or work in your city, they put a lot of stress on your infrastructure: roads, bridges, drainage, parks and water and sewer,” Melder said. “When the city doesn’t grow, it starts declining because the cost of doing business continues to escalate.”

Growing the city landmass and population helps the city recruit developers to the area, said Fred Welch, executive director of the Greater Conroe Economic Development Council.

“It gives us a larger population number that we can present to developers who are looking at large commercial or retail projects,” Welch said.