The Woodlands Incorporation Question
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- Neighbors -
I’ve been honored to serve The Woodlands community for 36 years - as leader of the Chamber of Commerce during our building years and later as the first resident to represent our community in the Texas Legislature and Congress.
In 1993 I helped launch the fight to preserve The Woodlands by filing the first bill in the Texas Legislature to prevent Houston from forcibly annexing our community. This is my home, and I want to preserve it.
Today, as we weigh the best form of governance for the future, I’m convinced incorporation doesn’t make sense for The Woodlands.
How does bigger government, higher costs and double-taxing ourselves for roads and law enforcement make us a better community than we already are?
Abandoning our award-winning Township for a typical incorporated city with higher costs and bigger bureaucracy risks our future. Bigger isn’t better.
The good news is we can remain a successful Township for as long as we choose. Despite claims, there is no threat of forced annexation by anyone else - ever. Texas law prevents it.
The recent Woodlands Parkway extension argument has been thoroughly debunked by transportation experts in The Woodlands.
And despite claims, The Woodlands Township has long been eligible for federal funds and has received millions of dollars in federal funding over the years for disaster relief, transportation, parks, housing and more.
As for the COVID temporary relief, being an incorporated city wouldn’t have brought a dime more to The Woodlands in CARES funding, and incorporation isn’t required by federal law for the latest round of funding. As the Township’s own lawyers confirm, “The Woodlands qualifies as an eligible recipient” for the once-in-a-lifetime state and local relief funding.
Incorporation, though, raises risks about our ability to control the future of The Woodlands.
Supporters insist The Woodlands can’t survive without becoming more dependent on federal handouts from Washington - which is a puzzling claim given our ample resources and proven ability to plan for the future. But from experience I worry the opposite is more likely - we won’t likely remain the community we are if we invite more control from Washington.
It’s a cruel truth that Washington dollars come with Washington rules. Federal funding often includes rigid mandates that dictate how an incorporated city should look and act. These one-size-fits-all mandates can supersede local control, tying the hands of local officials. It's the biggest complaint I hear from city leaders in my congressional district.
For example, right now suburban communities across America are battling an alarming push from Congress to force incorporated cities to abandon local zoning laws that encourage single-family homes. In this “war on suburbs”, Washington D.C. planners are demanding dense urban living with fewer homes and yards, replacing them with more apartments and multi-family housing. To be fair, this may be a solution in large cities facing severe housing shortages and homelessness like San Francisco and New York. But this mandate would be disastrous in The Woodlands where we already offer a thoughtful balance of homes and housing for singles, workers, families and seniors that works beautifully for our community.
We know The Woodlands best. We have a unique Township – the only one of its kind in Texas – designed to stay close to the residents it answers to. We’ve succeeded in this model for nearly 50 years to become one of the most livable communities in America. Why risk permanently losing control of our future to a typical City Hall or to the whims of Washington?
There are still so many questions about this rushed incorporation vote. If you’re not absolutely sure it makes sense permanently for our community - the only choice is to vote “no”.
My belief is that The Woodlands doesn’t need what incorporation brings, including higher costs, bigger bureaucracy and higher taxes.
I am voting “no” on incorporation, and respectfully urge you to join me. Vote this week through Friday during Early Voting or on Election Day, Tuesday 2nd.