Kingwood

Kingwood Kingwood

Kingwood is a 14,000 acre (57 km²) master-planned community located in northeast Houston, Texas, United States. The majority of the community is located in Harris County with a small portion in Montgomery County. Known as the “Livable Forest,” it is the largest master-planned community in Harris County and second-largest within the 10-county Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area.

Kingwood was created in 1971 as a joint venture between the Friendswood Development Company and King Ranch. Its name was derived as part of that partnership.

History

The Foster Lumber Company originally owned a portion of the tract of land that was later developed into the community of Kingwood. The Foster Family had owned the land since around 1892. On December 28, 1967, the land was sold to the joint venture between King Ranch and the Friendswood Development Company, an Exxon subsidiary. Exxon’s Friendswood Development Company hired John Bruton Jr. to serve as the Operations Manager in which he was responsible for the planning, development, engineering, and construction of Kingwood Plans for the community included greenbelts, shopping centers, schools, churches, recreational facilities, riding and hiking trails, and a boat ramp with access to Lake Houston.

Kingwood was founded in 1970, and the first village opened in 1971. Since the opening, the community had the slogan “The Livable Forest.” In 1976 Kingwood had a few thousand residents. Between 1980 and 1990 the community’s population increased by an amount between 40 percent and 70 percent. In 1990 the community had 19,443 residents and 204 businesses. The population increased to 37,397 in 1992. In 2005 the population was roughly 65,000, and had almost 200,000 people living within a ten mile (16 km) radius.

Around 1994, the City of Houston began to annex Kingwood. According to Texas state law, a city may annex an unincorporated area if the area is within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction without the consent of the residents of the area. Bob Lanier, then the Mayor of Houston, believed that the annexation of Kingwood would result in a $4 million annual gain for the City of Houston. Lanier argued that inner Houston was losing its tax base, and that the city needed to bring in Kingwood to add more to its tax base. On Wednesday August 21, 1996, the Houston City Council asked the Planning and Development Department to create service plans for Kingwood and Jacintoport, another area being annexed by Houston. The annexation of Kingwood and Jacintoport was to add 33 square miles (85 km²) and about 43,000 people to the city limits. Renée C. Lee of the Houston Chronicle said that Kingwood residents “fought an uphill battle for two years.” Kingwood residents offered to pay $4 million to the city in exchange for not being annexed. The residents also filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Houston, claiming that the city was taxing residents without representation. At the time, many residents believed that the City of Houston would not follow through on the state law requirement asking annexing cities to provide equal services to the annexed areas as they do to their original territory. Some residents did not like the idea of the city annexing their community without the community’s consent.

Houston annexed Kingwood in 1996, adding about 15,000 acres (6,100 ha) to the city limits. During that year, Thomas Phillips, a retired longshoreman and Bordersville resident, joined with representatives of Kingwood and sued the City of Houston in a federal court, arguing that the city could not legally annex areas if it did not provide certain services to some of its existing areas, including Bordersville.[12] Imad F. Abdullah, the President of Landmark Architects Inc., criticized the residents who fought annexation in his 1996 editorial in the Houston Business Journal, arguing that a “not in my backyard” mentality in particular communities overall negatively affects the entire metropolitan area.

Kingwood lobbied the Texas Legislature, asking for modifications to the state’s annexation laws. In 1999 the legislature successfully passed amendments requiring annexing municipalities to develop plans for services provided to communities being annexed, and municipalities are required to provide a three year planning period prior to official annexation to allow for public comment. The modified law allows for communities to use arbitration if the annexing cities fail to follow through with their service plans. The amendments do not affect prior annexations, including Kingwood’s annexation. Some Kingwood residents expressed satisfaction that other suburban unincorporated areas including The Woodlands would not undergo the annexation that occurred in Kingwood.

In 2006, Kingwood has over 65,000 residents. During that year, ten years after the annexation, Lee said that “anger and resentment that colored the early days of annexation” dissipated and that some Kingwood residents “have settled in as Houstonians, say those who once opposed annexation.” Lee said that while residents rightly complain about high rates for sewer and water services and obvious inadequacies in the fire and EMS services, those residents believe that Kingwood “has greatly suffered being a part of the city.” Lee says that most residents “will never come to terms with Houston’s hostile takeover.” Lee said that “Services have deteriorated, and the community has lost its identity as a suburban haven as most people had feared” and “Many residents believe the community has not maintained its identity as the Livable Forest.”

Kingwood has two community newspapers, The Tribune Newspaper and The Kingwood Observer.

Demographics

Kingwood includes the zip codes 77325, 77339, 77345, and (in part) 77346. Approximately 81,692 people live within these zip codes. There are 2,006 people per square mile (population density).

The median age is 37.2. The US median is 37.6. 68.27% of people in Kingwood (zip 77345), TX, are married. 8.42% are divorced.

The average household size is 2.71 people. 32.49% of people are married, with children. 6.28% have children, but are single. Race in Kingwood (zip 77345), TX

91.36% of people are white, 2.35% are black, 2.36% are Asian, 0.34% are native American, and 3.65% claim ‘Other’.

9.56% of the people in Kingwood (zip 77345), TX, claim Hispanic ethnicity (meaning 90.44% are non-Hispanic).

The Census Median Household Income for this geographic area is $77,527. The Median Family Income is $84,387, and the Average Non-family Income is $51,735. The Per Capita Income revealed in the Census for this area was $32,491.

Cityscape

Kingwood has over 15,000 acres (6,100 ha) of space. The community, heavily forested, includes over 15,000 acres (6,100 ha) in nature preserves and parks. Renée C. Lee of the Houston Chronicle compared the presence of forests, parks, and trails in Kingwood to the presence of those features in The Woodlands.[8]

Kingwood is divided into 25 neighborhoods, called “villages.” Most villages have a neighborhood pool providing free access for village residents, and most provide their own set of village-specific services.

Trailwood is Kingwood’s oldest subdivision, with its first homes being completed in 1971; while new homes are still being built in Barrington, Kingwood Greens, Kings River, Kings Point, and Royal Shores.

Several other subdivisions and developments have developed around the Kingwood area. Some of these subdivisions are Forest Cove, which was first built in 1963, Bear Branch, Deer Ridge Estates, Sand Creek, Barrington, Kings Point, Riverchase, Foster’s Mill, Riverbend, Hunters Ridge Estates, Greentree, Trailwood, Kingwood Lakes, Woodland Hills, Elm Grove, Mills Branch, King’s Forest, Woodstream, Sherwood Trails, North Kingwood Forest, Kings Lake Estates, Lakewood Cove and Woodspring Forest. Nearby developments include Oakhurst at Kingwood and King’s Manor. Oakhurst does not pay Kingwood Service Association fees, though it is considered part of Kingwood and is also developed by Friendswood Development.

Crime rate

In January through August 2003, the crime rate in Kingwood was 1,793 per 100,000 residents. Less than 10% of crimes were violent. During January through August 2006, the crime rate was 1,364 per 100,000 residents. In this case, less than 10% of the crimes were violent.

Economy

The human resources company Insperity (formerly Administaff) has its headquarters in Kingwood.

Education

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

Kingwood pupils residing in Harris County attend the Humble Independent School District. Kingwood High School and Kingwood Park High School serve the area. All students enrolled in Humble Independent School District also have the option to attend Quest High School, a magnet high school in Atascocita.

Students residing in Montgomery County attend the New Caney Independent School District. Residents of that portion attend Porter High School.[19] Before the opening of Porter High School in 2010, students attended New Caney High School. A small portion of North Woodland Hills, as well as the Kings Manor and Oakhurst developments, are located in Montgomery County.

Kingwood is served by three Humble ISD middle schools: Kingwood Middle School, Creekwood Middle School and Riverwood Middle School. Kingwood Middle School students are zoned to Kingwood Park High School, while students attending Creekwood and Riverwood are zoned to Kingwood High School.

In addition to the high schools and middle schools, Kingwood is served by nine Humble ISD elementary schools.

Private schools

Private schools in Kingwood include Christian School of Kingwood (Preschool through High School),[21] Northeast Christian Academy (PreK-12th), St. Martha Catholic School (PreK-8), Pines Montessori School (Toddlers – Middle School),.

Colleges and universities

Lone Star College-Kingwood is two-year community college that serves the area and it is part of the Lone Star College System.

Public libraries

Dedicated on August 12, 1983, the 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m²) Kingwood Branch of the Harris County Public Library, has over 112,000 books. In partnership with the Houston Public Library, the branch is slated to become a “City-County” branch in exchange for 4.2 million dollars to fund the building of a new 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m²) facility. The existing branch will be replaced by a community center. The original Kingwood Library location closed on March 13, 2010, and the new location opened on April 19, 2010.

In addition to the Kingwood Library, and within Kingwood, there is also the Kingwood Community College library, which permits access for “currently enrolled students, high school students and adults living within the district, patrons of Montgomery County Memorial Library System, and college employees.”

Government and infrastructure

Local government

Police, fire and ambulance services are provided by the City of Houston.

Houston City Council District E serves Kingwood. As of 2008 Mike Sullivan represents the district. District E contains Kingwood and the Houston portion of Clear Lake City. The City of Houston has a liaison who works with the District E representative and the residents of Kingwood. In 2006 some Kingwood residents told the Houston Chronicle that the District E representative has too little influence in city council, which had 15 seats during that year, and that the district is, in the words of Renée C. Lee of the Houston Chronicle, territorially “spread too thin.”

The Houston Public Works Department is responsible for the maintenance and construction of roads in Kingwood.

The City of Houston maintains water services. Before the annexation, 13 municipal utility districts (MUD) provided those services. After annexation, water and sewer bills increased; most residents had their water bills be double and triple of the bills prior to annexation. In 2006 Mayor of Houston Bill White said that the city had to cover the debts of the MUDs, so it increased the water and sewer rates.

METRO operates a single Park and Ride location in Kingwood to provide commuters with an alternative to driving themselves downtown.

The Kingwood Chamber of Commerce serves local businesses and the community with regular activities such as Kleenwood.

Around the time of annexation, much of the controversy regarding the annexation centered on the fire and police services. Residents believed that they received a higher quality of police and fire services than the City of Houston offered . When Kingwood became a part of Houston, residents could no longer legally discharge fireworks in Kingwood due to a City of Houston ban.

During the 1997 Mayor of Houston election, 7% of Kingwood voters voted for Lee P. Brown.

The Kingwood community associations control the deed restrictions of the neighborhoods.

Police

The Houston Police Department’s Kingwood Patrol Division, headquartered at 3915 Rustic Woods Drive, provides law enforcement services to Kingwood. As of 2006 the police station has a captain and 74 patrol and supervisor police officers. Bill White, Mayor of Houston in 2006, said that Kingwood had good police services. Of of the communities of Houston, Kingwood has the highest number of police officers in relation to the overall number of crimes committed in the city. White also said that he received requests to remove police officers from Kingwood and place them in areas of Houston with higher crime rates. White said that he refused the requests since the removal would impact response times in Kingwood. Prior to annexation, the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable provided law enforcement services. Initially after annexation, the Kingwood Storefront of the Northeast Patrol Division served Kingwood.

Minors under the age of 17 are subject to a Houston mandated curfew after 11:00PM Sunday through Thursday, or 12:00AM on Friday and Saturday (baring few minor exceptions.) This curfew extends to fill the time between 9AM until 2:30PM on days when school is in session. John Cannon, a spokesman for the HPD says, “the curfew is to ensure that kids are in school getting an education.”

Fire

Kingwood’s fire stations are within Houston Fire District 102, operated by the Houston Fire Department.[41] There are four stations located within Kingwood: Station 101, Station 102, Station 103 and Station 104. A fifth station, Station 105, is outside of Kingwood and in the same fire district.[41][42] As of 2006, the Kingwood fire stations include one district chief, 30 firefighters, three medic units, and nine pieces of equipment.[8]

When the City of Houston annexed Kingwood in 1996, the city acquired four stations held by the Kingwood Volunteer Fire Department (VFD). The stations acquired were numbered by the city from 101 to 104. Before the annexation, the department had up to 80 paid and volunteer firefighters and twelve pieces of equipment. After annexation the city added one more fire station. Mike Byers, a Kingwood resident quoted in the Houston Chronicle and the president of the Humble Area Chamber of Commerce, said that because many of the volunteer fire department members were friends and neighbors of Kingwood residents, the Kingwood residents had difficulty with the loss of the VFD. He added that many of the new staff of the emergency services stations were not familiar with Kingwood, and some were unable to find certain locations, leading to slow response times. As of 2006 Byers says that the City of Houston now provides good emergency services to Kingwood residents.

Bill White, Mayor of Houston in 2006, said during that year that Kingwood had “a great fire and EMS service with one of our best captains in the Kingwood area, and I have not gotten any complaints about fire and EMS response times, which is one of the best in the nation.” In 2006 Mike Fuhre, the former chief of the Kingwood VFD, criticized HFD for allocating fewer staff and pieces of equipment to Kingwood than had existed during the existence of the VFD. Fuhre said that there were occasions when Kingwood had no coverage because all of the firefighters were called to other locations.

County, state, and federal representation

Kingwood residents vote mostly Republican, and representatives of Kingwood on local and state levels tend to be Republican.[citation needed] The Harris County portion of Kingwood lies in Harris County Precinct 4 (PCT4). As of October 3, 2011 PCT4′s commissioner is Jack Cagle and the constable is Ron Hickman.

The Harris County section of Kingwood is located in District 127 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2010, Dan Huberty represents the district. The Montgomery County section of Kingwood is located in District 16 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008, Brandon Creighton represents the district. Kingwood is within District 4 of the Texas Senate; as of 2008 Tommy Williams represents that district. “Senator Tommy Williams: District 4″. The Senate of Texas.

Kingwood is in Texas’s 2nd congressional district. As of 2008, Ted Poe represents the district. Poe who won by 55% in 2004. The United States Postal Service Kingwood Post Office is located at 4025 Feather Lakes Way.

Parks and recreation

Kingwood has over 500 acres (200 ha) of nature preserves and parks, and it has over 75 miles (121 km) of hike and bicycle trails. The Kingwood community, not the city of Houston, owns the parks and trails.

The greenbelt trails’ maintenance is the responsibility of the trail association in each village with the exception of Trailwood Village. Over 75 miles (121 km) of greenbelts comb the area.[citation needed] In addition, each village association maintains a park and swimming pool for the benefit of its residents.

* The newest addition to Kingwood’s park facilities, opened in 2007, is a 2.25-acre (9,100 m²) public dog park. More information on this new dog park can be found at Kingwood Kennels.
* Kingwood Park, operated by the City of Houston.
* East End Park, owned and operated by the Kingwood Service Association.
* Opened on May 21, 2004, Kingwood Skate Park is a 5,402-square-foot (501.9 m²) City of Houston facility that has skate benches, a kinked round grind rail, skate benches, skate tables, a kicker ramb, a bank to stair with a rail, shade structures that include benches, a drinking fountain, a mini half pipe with a ninety degree hip, and a skateboarder-shaped bike rack. It was the first municipal skate park built by the city.

Kingwood residents enjoy a number of community events throughout the year, including:

* Mardi Gras
o When: February
o Where: Town Center Park.
o Parade and vendor fair with open air concert.
* Picnic on the Park
o When: Day before Easter
o Where: Town Center Park
o Easter Egg hunt open to children of all ages. The event also offers game booths, a vendor fair, and performances by local area groups.
* Auto Shows
o When: Spring and Fall, often April and October respectively.
o Where: Town Center Park.
o Typically draws up to 200 vehicles in a wide variety of categories. The Spring Car Show is held in April and the Fall show is typically held in October.
* Fourth of July
o When: July 4
o Where: Parade, between Creekwood Middle School, and Kingwood High School; festivities, Town Center Park.
o Consisting of a parade; and, firework display, with open air concert, and vendor fair.
* Christmas in the Park
o When: December
o Where: Town Center Park
o Vendor fair, and live performances from local groups. Day ends with a tree lighting ceremony in the park.