Woodlands Fails To Annex Shenandoah; Sets Sights on Huntsville

Portofino Shopping Center in ShenandoahLast year’s agreement between Mayor White and State Senator Tommy Williams was meant to save The Woodlands from the evil menace of annexation by Houston. Here’s how: Houston would allow The Woodlands to escape from its extraterritorial jurisdiction if The Woodlands would start using its taxes to pay for regional projects.

But did the agreement say anything about The Woodlands annexing its neighbors? While Williams has been shepherding bills through the legislature to finalize the agreement, he’s also sponsoring legislation that would allow the Town Center Improvement District, a special tax district meant to support the Woodlands Town Center, to expand so that it covers almost all of the Woodlands. And then there’s that special feature of improvement districts:

Unlike a city, which has limits put on its annexation capabilities, the existing TCID law allows the district to overlay other city boundaries or extraterritorial jurisdictions, which are designated areas for future growth. In addition, while cities may only annex contiguous property, TCID is permitted to annex property that is not located next to its boundaries.

These issues became a major concern for surrounding cities as legislation was introduced that would allow Town Center to expand to provide municipal service to The Woodlands. [emphasis added]

Brilliant! All those regional projects Houston is demanding could be paid for by other folks! Except that neighboring Shenandoah, home to the Venice-In-A-Parking-Lot Portofino Shopping Center (above), would have none of it. Shenandoah has worked out an agreement that would prevent Town Center from annexing any part of it—including any expanded boundaries or nearby planned developments.

In addition to the city limits, which includes 126 homes in the Grogan’s Forest neighborhood of The Woodlands and areas of extraterritorial jurisdiction, TCID could not annex new developments that are partially located within Shenandoah’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. These include Northline Oaks, Tamina, Lakeland and a new development on Forest Park Drive. This means those areas also could not become part of any future city of The Woodlands, VanSteenberg said.

See? Once The Woodlands decides to set up its own government, it might come up with a new set of boundaries. And who knows where they’ll be?

Next in line for a land grab: Conroe. And then, why not . . . Huntsville?

The TCID Executive Committee approved $10,000 for a study by Sarmistha Majundar of Sam Houston State University’s Political Science Department to survey students, faculty and residents in the Huntsville area about the need for public transportation to The Woodlands Town Center.

Photo: Hermes Architects