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Conroe is a city in Texas, United States. It is the seat of Montgomery County and a principal city in the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. It is about 40 miles (64 km) north of Houston.
During the 1930s, because of oil profits, the city boasted more millionaires per capita than any other U.S. city, though only briefly. After the construction of Interstate 45, many Houstonians began to settle communities around Conroe.
The Office of Management and Budget classifies Conroe as a principal city within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. The city is about 40 miles (64 km) north of Houston.
When Conroe incorporated in 1904, the city limits encompassed a 5.44 square mile area. From 1970 to 2000, the city limits expanded from 7.15 square miles to 42.35 square miles. Beginning in 2007, the city outlined a plan to continue expanding its city limits through annexation. According to Chapter 43 of the Texas Local Government Code, home rule municipalities like Conroe may annex territory that is adjacent to the city’s current boundaries, with certain restrictions. The city’s 2007 plan was to double its size through a combination of voluntary and involuntary annexations. In voluntary annexations, the city enters into an agreement with the property owner to annex the territory once it has been developed. Involuntary annexations occur when the city places adjacent unincorporated territory into a three-year annexation plan without obtaining the property owners’ consent. As of 2018, the city has annexed territory every year since 2007, increasing the city limits from 52.8 to 72.0 square miles.
April Sound, a gated community along the shores of Lake Conroe, was annexed by the city on January 1, 2015. Prior to annexation, the community’s water and sewage services were provided by two separate Municipal Utility Districts. When annexation was first approved by the Conroe city council in December 2011, the districts opposed it. In response, the city negotiated an agreement in 2013 that would allow the districts to continue to provide services to April Sound residents. However, some April Sound residents did not support the annexation, including a group of residents who filed a lawsuit against the city in April 2015. The lawsuit was dismissed in March 2017. Involuntary annexations were a major issue in the 2016 mayoral election, the first after April Sound residents were incorporated into the city. Proponents of annexation contended that it was a useful tool to “promote and facilitate growth and progress,” while those in opposition were concerned about whether annexed territories receive a “fair shake” in the negotiations. Toby Powell, who campaigned against “forced annexations,” won the election. In 2017, the city council voted in favor of additional involuntary annexations over Powell’s objection.
Conroe is in the southwest corner of the East Texas Piney Woods. The Piney Woods consist of pine trees and hardwood forests. The most common type of tree in the southwest Piney Woods is the loblolly pine. Shortleaf pine are also abundant. Pockets of blackland prairie vegetation are also present, but are disappearing due to urbanization.
In 1926, the Texas A&M Forest Service purchased 1700 acres of Piney Woods to establish W. Goodrich Jones State Forest. The forest serves as a research and demonstration area for sustainable forestry techniques. The forest also preserves the habitat of the red-cockaded woodpecker, a species classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. In 2017, Texas A&M asked Conroe state senator Brandon Creighton to author a bill setting aside 10 percent of the forest for educational and research-related development. The bill also opened the possibility of commercial development on the land. Public concern over the bill persuaded Creighton to revise it. The final version, which passed the Senate unanimously, protected the entire forest from development.
The West Fork of the San Jacinto River flows through the western edge of Conroe. The entire city is within the river’s watershed. The river flows southeast from Lake Conroe, a 19,640 surface acre lake dammed in 1973 as an alternative source of drinking water for Houston.
Conroe sits on several geologic layers of underground aquifers, which supply the city with fresh drinking water. Due to the rapid development of the land and increased population of Conroe and the surrounding area, the groundwater supply is being withdrawn faster than it can be replenished. As a result, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, which oversees groundwater usage in Montgomery County, mandated that Conroe reduce its groundwater usage by 30 percent of 2009 amounts by January 1, 2016. As part of the groundwater usage reduction plan, the San Jacinto River Authority began in September 2015 to supplement Conroe’s groundwater supply with surface water pumped from Lake Conroe. The SJRA charges the city usage fees to cover the cost of pumping and treating the water. On August 27, 2015, the City of Conroe filed a lawsuit against the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, claiming that the LSGCD did not have the authority to limit the city’s groundwater usage. The city also refused to pay SJRA water usage fee increases in 2016, resulting in a separate lawsuit filed by the SJRA against the city. As of 2017, both lawsuits are still ongoing, resulting in legal fees charged to the city of over $836,313.
Parts of Conroe surrounding the West Fork of the San Jacinto River are in a floodplain. Significant flooding occurs along the floodplain when rainfall exceeds nine inches in a 48-hour period. The Conroe area has approximately a 10 percent chance of receiving this much rainfall in any given year. Urban development in Conroe and the surrounding area has also exacerbated the risk of flooding. Montgomery County experienced three consecutive years of 500-year floods in May 2015, April 2016, and August 2017. A 500-year flood has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in a year. In addition, a fourth major flood occurred in May 2016, resulting in two major floods in two months. The flooding in August 2017 during Hurricane Harvey dropped nearly 32 inches of rain on the city. To protect the integrity of the dam, San Jacinto River Authority officials released 79,100 cubic feet per second of water from Lake Conroe downstream into the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, exacerbating the flooding already taking place along the floodplain. Conroe city officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of McDade Estates, a neighborhood on the banks of the river. As a response to the flooding, Montgomery County commissioners in October 2017 requested $1.25 million from the federal government for a flood mitigation study, along with an additional $95.5 million to implement various flood mitigation projects.
The city supports several arts organizations, including the Greater Conroe Arts Alliance. The Alliance is a network of multiple arts groups in the city such as the Conroe Symphony, the Conroe Art League, and the Montgomery County Choral Society. The Alliance also sponsors, along with the state of Texas, the Young Texas Artists Music Competition. The competition, founded in 1983, showcases young musicians who aspire to careers in classical music. In 2009, the city sponsored the Art Bench Project, which converted 13 stone benches scattered throughout the central business district into works of art. Each bench portrays a different part of Conroe’s history and culture, from historical figures like George Strake and Charles B. Stewart to contemporary art groups such as the Crighton Players.
Montgomery County War Memorial Park, in downtown Conroe next to the Montgomery County tax office, is a memorial to the 166 soldiers from Montgomery County who have been killed in active duty. The park’s dedication ceremony was in 1976 and featured a speech by then president Gerald Ford. In 2017, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court and the City of Conroe agreed to relocate the memorial next to the Lone Star Monument and Flag Park. The park will also be expanded to include the names of up to 50,000 soldiers who have lived in Montgomery County. Construction on the new memorial was projected to begin in early 2018.
Lake Conroe, northwest of downtown Conroe, is the source of several water-based activities such as boating and fishing. The most common fish in the lake are Largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, white bass, and hybrid striped bass. Crappie may also be found in the early spring and fall.
Colleges and universities
The city is served by the Lone Star College System primarily by the Lone Star College-Montgomery Campus and LSC University Center. Other campuses in the county include the EMCID Center in New Caney, and the Conroe Center. The territory in Conroe ISD joined the community college district in 1991, and the territory in Willis ISD joined the district in 1996.
The first phase of the Conroe campus of St. Thomas University is to open in fall 2020, with the Old Conroe Police building as a temporary site for up to three years. The permanent campus is proposed to be at Deison Technology Park. Class of 1952 alumnus Vincent D’Amico offered the university 50 acres (20 ha) of land in east Montgomery County for the project.
Public school districts
Almost all areas of Conroe are within the Conroe Independent School District though a small northern section of Conroe is within the Willis Independent School District.
Conroe Independent School District
All of the schools listed here are in the city of Conroe. All of the Conroe ISD section of Conroe is zoned to Conroe High School.
The three junior high schools that serve the CISD portion are:
- John V. Peet Junior High School
- Washington Junior High School
- Albert B. Moorhead Junior High School
Some intermediate schools that serve the CISD portion are:
- Cryar Intermediate School
- Travis Intermediate School
- Bozman Intermediate School
Some elementary schools that serve the CISD portion are:
- Anderson Elementary School
- Neil Armstrong Elementary School
- Giesinger Elementary School
- Sam Houston Elementary School
- O. A. Reaves Elementary School
- B. B. Rice Elementary School
- J. W. Runyan Elementary School
- Wilkinson Elementary School
Willis Independent School District
The Willis ISD section is zoned to Turner Elementary School, Brabham Middle School, and Willis High School.
- Sacred Heart Catholic School
- Covenant Christian School
- Lifestyle Christian School
- Montgomery Christian Academy
The closest Catholic high school is Frassati Catholic High School in north Harris County; Conroe is in the school’s intended catchment area.
The county operates the main branch of the Montgomery County Memorial Library System.
In 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau designated the area around Conroe and The Woodlands as a “large urbanized transit area,” an area defined as having over 200,000 residents, making it eligible to receive federal transportation funds.
- Interstate 45 directly connects the city with Houston to its south (40 miles) and with Dallas to its northwest (200 miles).
- Texas Highway 105 connects the city of Cleveland to the east and town of Montgomery to the west.
- Texas Loop 336 circles the city of Conroe.
- Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport provides general aviation services to Conroe.
- Greyhound Bus Lines operate a small station.
- Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (291 Conroe Park & Ride) provide service to Downtown Houston.
- The City of Conroe launched a local bus service, Conroe Connection, in 2015. It runs Monday through Friday, from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
- Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway BNSF Railway operates the busy Conroe subdivision, which is an east-west railroad main line that runs from
- Silsbee in Hardin County to Navasota in Grimes County where it intersects a main line running between Fort Worth and Galveston.
Union Pacific Railroad Corporation operates another busy main line that runs north from Houston in Harris County to Palestine in Anderson County, known as the Palestine subdivision. The two railroads intersect at a diamond in downtown Conroe between Main and First Streets.