THE WOODLANDS TX - After garnering the unanimous approval of the Houston City Council, a regional participation agreement outlining the stipulations of the city's promise not to annex the community has been ratified by all parties except Woodlands residents.

The City Council's signature is one of the last in a list of steps shoring up the original agreement inked by state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, and Houston Mayor Bill White in December. The agreement requires the community will dedicate a portion of its sales tax revenue to the city for improvements to roads and parks that are used by residents of The Woodlands and Houston. Some community leaders said the City Council's willingness to sign the agreement indicates it is a positive partnership for both parties.

""The City Council was overwhelmingly supportive of the regional participation agreement, and I believe from the comments of the mayor and council members that they felt it was a historic agreement that might set the tone for other communities in the state of Texas to reach agreements with the city,"" said Joel Deretchin, president of two homeowners association groups.

At the polls
Residents will have the opportunity to express their willingness to trade in three property owners groups, which levy assessments and handle municipal-type services, for the Town Center Improvement District as the governing entity.

In order to take on that kind of authority, residents must vote to expand the district's borders to include the entire community (Proposition 1) and change its board of directors to include seven elected members (Proposition 2). That change will happen during a transition period between 2008 and 2010 as the terms of its current members expire. A third proposition would give the TCID the ability to collect property taxes from residents and business owners that will serve as the funding source for services like waste collection, park and pathway maintenance and street lighting.

RPA penned
The agreement, completed only one day before the City Council made its decision, deems the city the ""project manager for the implementation of all selected projects.""

That makes city officials in charge of planning, designing and soliciting bids for the regional improvement projects. In exchange, the city will release the community from its extraterritorial jurisdiction and consent to incorporation after May 29, 2014 - the earliest The Woodlands could legally incorporate per the moratorium agreement - if residents want to develop a city.

Differing views
While one City Council member called the agreement a ""win-win"" for both parties, a community leader opposing the propositions said the members of the City Council also indicated they never wanted The Woodlands to begin with. ""It is a real propaganda campaign, saying we are going to be annexed,"" said Bruce Cunningham, president of the Grogan's Mill Village Association and a founding member of The Woodlands know, which opposes the ballot measures.

""We didn't have to worry about being annexed based on what the City Council said, and I suspect we wouldn't have had to pay them these many millions of dollars,"" Cunningham said. A moratorium agreement with Houston signed in 1999 prevents the City Council with attempting to annex The Woodlands until at least 2011.

Barry Millenson, co-founder of a committee that supports the propositions, said while he doesn't know if City Council members now would annex The Woodlands within the next few years or not, he believes ""we have the opportunity here and now to prevent annexation."" ""Why take the chance to wait and see who the mayor and city council members are later on?"" asked Millenson, with The Woodlands V.O.I.C.E.

Both political action committees are sponsoring television commercials, advertisements and websites to try to encourage voters to take part in the election. Representatives from The Woodlands know and The Woodlands V.O.I.C.E. are also speaking at various community events throughout the weeks leading up to the vote.

" Posted by Tamborrel Bulox Team on
Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.