The board will begin meeting twice a month to provide updates and to discuss individual aspects of the study, such as public safety and various revenue options.
The township has until 2057 to incorporate before risking annexation by Houston or Conroe, according to a 2007 Regional Participation Agreement that allows The Woodlands to collect a portion of sales tax and choose a future form of self-governance. However, last June, the Texas Legislature passed two bills setting procedures and guideline to become a city.
In January, the township selected Matrix Consulting Group, a company that provides high-quality detailed analysis for local and state governments, in conjunction with HR Green, an engineering and technical consulting firm, to begin studying what would be needed for the township to incorporate and what kind of effects it would have on residents.
One important aspect of the process will be public feedback, said Alan Pennington, vice president of Matrix Consulting Group. The group will organize community meetings and surveys to gauge responses from residents.
“From our discussions, our suggested approach is in late April or early May do an additional public meeting to sort of kick off the incorporation study with the public to give them the opportunity to share any additional information they’d like to share,” Pennington said.
Pennington said the group plans to work with the township to promote the meeting and surveys so residents can participate. He said the group is also working to develop an informational website for residents.
In addition to general public meetings, township Chairman Gordy Bunch said the board would also like to hold meetings with The Woodlands village associations as well.
“Each village needs to have some direct input because they have different issues,” Bunch said. “You’re going to get different feedback from folks in Creekside Park and College Park than you’re going to get from Sterling Ridge and Grogan’s Mill. I think if we have a definitive, separate joint village association feedback session then you’re going to get a lot information that’s more relevant to each of the villages.”
Bunch said while planning for incorporation is underway, it could be more than two years before the township could become a full-fledged city, should the public approve it.
“What the general public needs to understand is we’re just in the planning process right now, which we hope to get finished by this time next year,” Bunch said. “The earliest it would ever be on a ballot is November of 2019. If it passes, we have a six-month window to hold the next election, which would be to set the new city council structure.”