Building is ongoing at Bluejack National, a 767-acre luxury residential and golf community on FM 1486 in Montgomery. (Courtesy Bluejack National)
Thousands of undeveloped acres along the FM 1486 corridor in western Montgomery County are slated for residential and commercial development in the coming years, ranging from a 29-acre mixed-use site to a 5,700-acre master-planned community.
The increase in development along the highway will bring growth and prosperity to the unincorporated area of the county, said Brett Schoenfield, president of Bluejack National, a 767-acre luxury residential and golf community on FM 1486 in Montgomery.
“It’s going to attract residents; it’s going to attract business and industry; [and] it’s going to attract retail,” Schoenfield said.
Because of the growth in the region—including in the FM 1486 and Jackson Road area—Montgomery ISD is pursuing a spring bond package, Executive Director of Communications Justin Marino said. The bond proposes a seventh elementary school, expanding Lake Creek High School, and planning and design for a third junior high school, Marino said.
Trustees called a bond election Feb. 15.
“The projects in the proposed bond intended to address growth do allow the district to maintain capacity needed to accommodate growth on the west side of the district without a need to rezone,” Marino said in early February.
However, the developments pose a threat to the wildlife living in the area, according to Lisa Wolling, executive director of Friends of Texas Wildlife. She said the additional developments will give her organization—which supports the rehabilitation of native wildlife in Montgomery County—a larger service area.
“We don’t have unlimited [resources] for absorbing 10,000 more households that are potentially going to be causing problems,” Wolling said.
Developments in the works along the FM 1486 corridor in western Montgomery County include a 5,700-acre master-planned community by Airia Development Co.; a 1,623-acre development owned by Newquest Properties; and Magnolia Springs, a 665-acre, 1,900-home community under construction, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
Magnolia Springs—which will include single-family homes and mixed-use development—is in its first phase of construction, which will bring more than 200 homesites, according to developer Signorelli Co. In addition, Airia Development Co. officials said home sales are anticipated to begin in 2023 for the master-planned community, while Newquest Properties officials said infrastructure construction is set to begin in late 2022 on their project.
Schoenfield said the developments validate Bluejack National’s decision to build on FM 1486 with its first home constructed in March 2015. He said the western part of Montgomery County is attractive for development because of its lakes, trees and rolling hills.
The community, which spans 767 acres, will have 420 homesites at build-out.
“The better question might be what’s not [attractive]. … It just doesn’t feel like you’re in North Houston,” Schoenfield said.
In addition to the larger developments, Parkside Capital also owns 29 acres on the corner of FM 1486 and FM 1774 with 15 acres devoted to residential and the remainder planned for commercial uses, Vice President Dan Moody said.
With all these developments planned, Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said he believes Precinct 2 residents will see a lot of change in the next three to five years as the additional homes and businesses change the environment in the county.
“It’s going to be a massive change that people may not be ready for and people may not be expecting,” Riley said.
In addition, Wolling said wildlife native to Montgomery County is being displaced because of the development. One of the biggest problems in the county is deer, which become displaced and then overcrowd natural areas left for them.
“They have no place left to go,” Wolling said. “[Deer] that used to be in the woods are now in neighborhoods getting hit by cars.”
The tolled extension of Hwy. 249 through Montgomery County, which opened from FM 1488 to FM 1774 in March 2021, has made places such as the FM 1486 corridor more accessible and desirable for developments, said Carlene Mullins, principal planner for the Houston-Galveston Area Council, the region’s metropolitan planning organization.
Schoenfield said he thinks the extension of Hwy. 249 has been a game changer for development in the region.••“[Hwy. 249] is a complete paradigm shift in people’s buying decisions,” Shoenfield said.
However, with development following the Hwy. 249 extension, Mullins said local roads such as FM 1486 could see increased traffic. FM 1486 is a two-lane road.
Traffic grew 41.9% from 2011-20 at the intersection of FM 1486 and Hwy. 105 with more than 800 additional daily drivers, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
TxDOT Public Information Officer Danny Perez said TxDOT does not have a plan to widen the road. However, a project is planned to overlay the roadway for a smoother drive and to extend the life of the road, which is set to begin within the next four years and cost about $5.3 million, Perez said.
In light of the large developments planned, Mullins said the H-GAC may need to prioritize a project to widen the road sometime in the next five to 10-plus years.
“There’s a need to start planning for the future now,” Mullins said. “It’s easier to do it now and plan ahead than it is to try to fix something in retrospect.”
While the developments on FM 1486 are outside of Montgomery’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, they will still affect growth, according to Montgomery City Administrator Richard Tramm. With the current population of the city at around 2,000 residents, Tramm said he expects to add 1,000 more residents in the next five years.
“One of our big things that we have to keep a close eye on is to make sure that … we keep both our construction and development of our drinking water system as well as our wastewater system ahead of the development curve,” Tramm said.
MISD is also preparing for significant growth and evaluating its facility needs following a 2021 demographic study, Marino said. Communities on FM 1486 are zoned to Montgomery Elementary School, which Marino said has space to accommodate growth at the far west side of the district.
The district’s bond proposal of a seventh elementary school and an expansion of Lake Creek High School would accommodate immediate growth on the south side of the district and longer-term growth projected on the west side by maintaining capacity needed in the Montgomery Elementary feeder pattern without the need to rezone, Marino said. MISD trustees voted to call a bond election for May 7 during a meeting Feb. 15.
”The addition of a seventh elementary school and the expansion … of Lake Creek proposed in the bond recommendation accomplish [the] two planning objectives of the district,” Marino said in a statement prior to the board’s vote.
Additionally, preparations for the construction of the Lone Star College-Magnolia Center, a planned satellite campus of LSC-Montgomery, are underway. LSC-Montgomery President Rebecca Riley said the location was chosen at FM 1486 and FM 1774 partially to accommodate the growing area.
“The selection of a site near 1486 and 1774 fit the criteria for a growing area, good visibility, and excellent mobility infrastructure,” she said in an email. “Lone Star College-Magnolia Center will fulfill a need for affordable higher education in a rapidly growing community.”
Maegan Kirby and Anna Lotz contributed to this report.