Following mayoral transition, Oak Ridge North City Council discusses infrastructure projects, fee changes

The Oak Ridge North City Council held its June 10 regular meeting with two new members: returning City Council Member Tom Coale, left, and new Mayor Paul Bond, center.

The Oak Ridge North City Council held its June 10 regular meeting with two new members: returning City Council Member Tom Coale, left, and new Mayor Paul Bond, center.

Oak Ridge North’s mayor retired from his position and was replaced by a City Council member at the June 10 regular City Council meeting, which also included several community updates and discussion over city policies.

Before council began its regular business, Jim Kuykendall stepped down from his position as mayor after nearly eight years in the role. Paul Bond, a council member and the mayor pro tem, was then sworn in and will serve the remainder of Kuykendall’s two-year term ending in May 2020. Former Council Member Tom Coale returned to City Hall to fill Bond’s seat through his term, also ending next spring, and Council Member Dawn Candy was elected by the council as its new mayor pro tem.

Tom Coale is sworn in to fill Mayor Paul Bond's seat on the Oak Ridge North City Council, in his third stint as a council member.[/caption]

After Kuykendall’s exit, Bond presided over his first council meeting, beginning with city staff reports. Public Works Director Joe Sherwin informed council that the city’s final right of way acquisitions for construction on Robinson Road have been completed, opening the door for Montgomery County Precinct 3 to move forward on the Woodlands Parkway overpass redesign at I-45. Sherwin said the county is completing final engineering plans related to the city’s acquisitions and is expected to begin work this summer.

“The county’s ready to go, and we’ve gotten all the properties secured and ready. The engineering has not quite yet been finalized from the county side with the revision that they were going to do,” he said.

Sherwin also said two of Oak Ridge North’s ongoing infrastructure projects will likely commence in July and are now open for bidding. The initiatives include the second phase of the city’s I-45 waterline extension between the residential and commercial zones running from near Robinson Road to Paula Lane, and the ninth phase of sewer updates funded through the Texas Water Development Board.

Police Chief Tom Libby followed Sherwin’s report and highlighted the police department’s recent participation in an inaugural summer safety festival sponsored by the Shenandoah Police Department and Conroe ISD and held June 1 at the Woodforest Bank Stadium. Libby said hundreds of community members attended, and he and Shenandoah Police Chief Raymond Shaw are planning to build upon the event next year with more funding and possible state-level participation.

“We’re going to meet here probably in about a month or two to start working on next year. It should be bigger and better,” Libby said.

The council went on to approve an update to the city’s residential dwelling permitting fees as required by the recently passed House Bill 852 in the Texas Legislature. The city’s prior system of basing fees on home values or project costs is now prohibited, so the council approved a new flat permit fee of $0.72 per square foot of work or building area. City Building Official John Beisert said the new figure was calculated by averaging the square footage and building permit fees of residential projects in the city over the past three years.

The council also approved several changes to the city’s schedule of fees, including increases for special-use permits, zoning variance and special exception fees. Beisert said those fees were increased to avoid losing money due to the costs of advertising notices in local newspapers and to account for the time and effort required of city staff to draft and mail notices. The permit fee was increased from $250 to $600, and the zoning variance and special exemption fees were increased from $250 to $300.

The council session concluded with council members unanimously approving a resolution requesting Gov. Greg Abbott veto HB 2439, which would prohibit the regulation of building materials.

“If this gets signed into law, cities like this one will no longer be able to tell residents, ‘Sorry, you can’t use corrugated steel on the outside of your house.’ They could use whatever is approved at the federal level on any property, any residential or commercial,” Council Member Alex Jones said. “We’d have no control whatsoever over it.”
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 and is a reporter for The Woodlands edition.


MOST RECENT

Oak Ridge North officials granted two-year extensions to two private schools' specific-use permits for operating within the city's Plaza District on March 1. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Oak Ridge North approves 2-year permit extensions for All Nations, Journey schools

City Council renewed specific-use permits for two Robinson Road schools housed in the Sojourn Baptist Church building during a special session March 1.

Most of the electric grid in Texas is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which is not linked to other interconnected national electrical systems. (Courtesy Electric Reliability Council of Texas)
Leaving the Texas power grid 'not likely to be an option' for Harris County, official says

Just two weeks after severe winter weather dropped Harris County temperatures below freezing for three consecutive days, which led to widespread power outages, loss of water and the deaths of at least 50 county residents, Harris County Commissioners Court called for major reform at the state level regarding the Texas power grid and related energy policies.

Hank's Crab Shack gets and sells several hundred pounds of crawfish daily, especially during the peak of crawfish season. (Morgan Theophil/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hank's Crab Shack serving Katy; 16 Spring-Klein business updates and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

(Courtesy Top Sushi)
Top Sushi The Woodlands opens in Metropark Square

The sushi restaurant is the sixth for the company in the Greater Houston area.

Houston City Hall in rainbow lighting
Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce celebrates five years of service

The organization is open to all and serves members throughout the Greater Houston area.

Montgomery County is set to receive its largest first-dose allocation during the week of March 1. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County set to receive largest vaccine allocation yet in first week of March

Nearly 20,000 vaccine doses were allocated to the county's two vaccine hubs and several additional providers for the week of March 1.

A coronavirus vaccine is given at Memorial Hermann's mass vaccine clinic Feb. 26. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Memorial Hermann closes out 2nd round of vaccines with 7,000 distributed among 2 clinics

The clinic will continue operations through 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

The new Fort Bend Epicenter multipurpose facility could be used as a spot for trade shows and sporting events, could act as a large-scale shelter for county residents in an emergency and more. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Large multipurpose complex coming to Fort Bend County; Sugar Land to widen University Blvd. and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

The Woodlands Township board of directors met Feb. 24 to discuss items including winter storm recovery and a financial report. (Screenshot via The Woodlands Township)
The Woodlands officials criticize county officials over CARES Act funds management; commissioner fires back

The Woodlands Township board of directors criticized Montgomery County's methods of allocating federal coronavirus aid at the board's Feb. 24 meeting, calling the $244,000 the township received a "slap in the face."