Image: This pictorial is an abbreviated guide to the incorporation process for The Woodlands on the official incorporation study website, www.thewoodlandsincorporationstudy.com. It is not the game board for “Candyland,” even if it makes you hungry. (A larger version of the pictorial is available at the bottom of this article.
The Woodlands, February 9 – Woodlands Township Board Chairman Gordy Bunch responded to a January 28 letter from a group of pro-developer members of the political “establishment” which appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Golden Hammer (“Woodlands Political ‘Establishment’ Fights Back, Raises Basic Questions Challenging Township Incorporation Studies, Transparency, Costs,” The Golden Hammer, February 9, 2019.) The Woodlands Township has made the entire incorporation study, as well as a number of interactive tools, available to citizens, so that they may evaluate the costs and the benefits of incorporation on their own.
The interactive website, which is a part of the Woodlands Township official government site, is www.thewoodlandsincorporationstudy.com.
In response to an inquiry from this newspaper, Bunch said, “I invite every citizen to go to the incorporation study website. If you do you will find every document and every meeting video indexed by subject for the last year. Q&A’s are also there.”
Bunch responded specifically to the letter from the “establishment” members, which included a number of unsuccessful candidates for the Township Board of Directors, including Stuart Schroeder: “Each item they refer to is addressed publicly, documented, videotaped, responded to and otherwise addressed in one or multiple meetings that the majority of the signers did not attend a single one of the close to 20 meetings. Stuart Schroeder scheduled his Village Association meeting during our September 25, 2018, public forum. That meeting was three-plus hours long and extremely thorough. Legal, opinions, study drafts, and other information is all publicly presented and posted. Take a look at the site.”
One of the leaders of the “establishment” group is Mike Bass, the former Woodlands Township Director who lost his re-election bid in 2016. Bunch had some strong words for Bass and his group:
“My official position is folks can review all the meetings, studies, forum, legal opinions on TheWoodlandsincorporationstudy.com site. We are about half way through the study. It’s premature for people to form an opinion with information that is incomplete. Most of the people who signed that letter actively participated in the fraudulent ‘70% tax increase’ anti-incorporation campaign in 2016, which the voters resoundingly rejected. Mike Bass publicly stated he doesn’t want incorporation in his lifetime, when he was a sitting board member.”
Bunch conceded that “Some of their concerns are legitimate based upon on the fact that study is incomplete. We are still working through items that require negotiations and additional information or clarification. The Board is committed to vetting out all relevant information and supporting the final study with legal opinions, signed contracts, and the Texas state code.”
There is an enormous mass of information on The Woodlands Incorporation Study website. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and the answers directly from that site:
Has a decision been made to incorporate The Woodlands?
Who will decide if the Township incorporates?
The voters of The Woodlands.
When will incorporation be on the ballot?
This has not yet been determined.
Will a maximum tax rate at incorporation be required on the ballot?
Will the school district boundaries change at incorporation?
Will existing Township services continue at incorporation?
Is a study underway to determine potential cost impacts of incorporation?
When will this study be completed?
Will the Township continue to provide contract trash and recycling services as part of Township services?
What is the tax impact of incorporation?
Unknown – study currently underway.
What happens to existing property covenants at Incorporation?
No change – covenants remain on the land.
What impact will incorporation have on Village Associations?
The incorporation website contains a giant document library, which seems easy to use and contains the consulting studies the Woodlands Township has already received.