GREENSPOINT – The North Houston Association luncheon featured reports from two county judges on “Growth Perspectives”.
It also recognized Harris County Engineer Arthur Storey on his retirement, citing the importance of his work across all the county and region.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett noted in his presentation that the county is the 3rd largest in the U.S., with 4.5 million residents. His message was that the county and the city of Houston are becoming more alike, and that a regional approach to governing would be best.
On the negative side, he mentioned suburban poverty, indigent healthcare, and homeless problems. He also cited the stress on transportation and crime that population growth has brought to the area.
As chairman of the Transportation Policy Committe of greater Houston, he is planning for solutions such as an I-69 bypass, and more rail transportation, to deal with the increased volume.
He feels that a regional government voice would be better able to explain our problems to the Legislature, and find solutions with the state cooperating.
Judge Craig Doyal noted that this was his first term as a judge, although he has been county commissioner prior to this.
He noted the strong growth in his county, and northern sections of Harris County adjacent to Montgomery County. Special mention was made of the new ExxonMobil development near the county line and I-45.
Doyal mentioned the importance of partnerships to manage growth. He related the tale of how Highway 249 had been on the drawing boards for decades, but only now through cooperative effort will its extension open in the next few weeks.
Also mentioned was the help of the San Jacinto River Authority to partner in the widening of Highway 105 near Conroe.
Doyal said that his county is preparing to issue a Bond referendum in May, to pay for the growth needs of the county.
Highlights of Montgomery County’s growth that he noted were a successful tax abatement program. This is resulting in a $300 million dollar investment in a new company, that will bring 300 new jobs to the county. This is through work of the Conroe EDC, he noted.
Another example of a successful enterprise is the Lone Star Executive Airport, that now has a runway almost as long as Hobby Airport, and that can accept international flights.
Doyal said that high on the priority list is the management of the water supply, which will be critical in the future to quality of life issues, and economic development.