The Setting For The Woodlands Township races, 2016
The Woodlands was originally intended to be a quiet, secure enclave where residents could raise their families in a true “hometown” setting. Two main factors continue to threaten this quality of life that we enjoy, and for which residents’ paid a premium to make their home – namely, commercial development and road expansion. The problems these two factors present are exacerbated by The Hughes Corporation, who now owns The Woodlands Development Company, and Montgomery County. It is therefore imperative that residents elect candidates to the Township board who will stand up for the interests of the residents and be willing to fight the development company and the county.
Over the years, The Woodlands Development Company has changed owners, with each subsequent owner trying to squeeze as much profit out of their new investment as possible by cutting corners on founder George Mitchell’s vision. Examples of this are the clear-cutting practices happening in newer parts of The Woodlands, and the sudden existence of a downtown skyline, when originally no building was meant to be higher than the tree line. This is eroding the character of The Woodlands by degrading the unique aesthetic quality of the community and adding traffic.
Due to not being incorporated as a city, The Woodlands has also been at the mercy of Montgomery County as it concerns our roads and security. While The Woodlands makes up about 20% of the county’s population, we pay at least 34% of the county’s real estate tax revenues. Despite The Woodlands (and the rest of Precinct 3) being the most urbanized portion of the county with the most mobility needs, the county historically has not prioritized our needs over other projects, and has used The Woodlands as a cash cow to redistribute money to fund projects around the rest of the county.
The Great Awakening
Remember the May 2015 road bond, when the county wanted to extend The Woodlands Parkway to SH 249, placing a major county thoroughfare through the heart of our community? 83% of The Woodlands voters rejected this bond, with help from the advocacy of Gordy Bunch, Bruce Rieser, Brian Boniface, and John Anthony Brown, among numerous other activists, in face of the tremendous opposition from Bruce Tough and Mike Bass. Later that year, voters kicked Bruce Tough out of office for siding with the developers and county government over the residents. Now Mike Bass stands for reelection where he is seeking to distract from his record of defying voters by engaging in a misinformation campaign about Gordy Bunch and the other Residents’ Advocates looking to represent The Woodlands on the Township board.
The Woodlands is not safe from annexation from Houston until 2057. The Township’s creation was by state statute, which can be overturned by state statute. The Woodlands has to be on defense every legislative session to make sure this doesn’t happen. Only last session, a bill was proposed that would’ve phased The Woodlands Township out of existence in 8 years unless we pay a fee and further legislative action is taken to protect us (HB 613). As Houston currently has a massive pension crisis, annexation of The Woodlands is looking more attractive to them. Houston has tremendous representation in the state legislature, whereas The Woodlands only has one state representative and one state senator. The deck is stacked against us.
No one is suggesting we incorporate now. The residents’ advocates whom we endorse simply recognize the reality of needing to prepare, so that when the time comes to incorporate, the impact will be minimized and we can finally defend ourselves as a community.
Mike Bass recently voted to eliminate the incorporation reserve fund. Bass and his allies are the same people who supported The Woodlands Parkway extension, and who are now falsely claiming the residents’ advocates want to incorporate now without preparation, which will be fiscally irresponsible. These underhanded political tactics are precisely why people hate politicians. In essence, Bass and his allies are intentionally creating the crisis by eliminating diligent preparations for incorporation, such as the reserve fund. Incorporation is inevitable, and preparations must take place.
The county and developers aren’t through. Besides The Woodlands Parkway, they also have plans to turn Gosling, Branch Crossing, and Grogan’s Mill into thoroughfares. Gordy Bunch, Bruce Rieser, Brian Boniface, and John Anthony Brown pledge to stand up against the county and developers to protect our community. It’s time for The Woodlands to take a stand.