[Talk-us] Townships

OSM Volunteer stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Sat Jul 29 21:10:13 UTC 2017

Shawn K. Quinn <skquinn at rushpost.com> writes:
Funny you mention this. Texas might be the first exception to the rule, as The Woodlands is now being referred to as a "township" and this is the first time that I've seen the term used within this state. I learned this when passing a bus for The Woodlands Express (which previously had been running under the auspices of some other agency).

Shawn, if you read the Wikipedia article (The_Woodlands,_Texas), there is some curious history here:  "In 2007, two state legislators representing Woodlands...created and passed two bills in the 2007 Legislature...(calling) for a vote to allow expansion of an existing improvement district (now The Woodlands Township) and to allow The Woodlands to collect sales tax, while SB 1012 allowed for the creation of regional agreements between governments. The passage of these bills allowed an opportunity for The Woodlands to incorporate itself."  However, it did not:  it is actually a "Special Purpose District."  It is CALLED a "township," but it is legally not one.

Continuing from Wikipedia:  "The Woodlands Township is a Special-purpose district created by the 73rd Texas Legislature in 1993, and is run by a seven-member board of directors who are elected directly by the residents...in an at large election, for two year staggered terms.  Even though The Woodlands is not a city nor a traditional township government, it still provides limited municipal government services such as trash pickup, parks and recreation, covenant enforcement, fire and rescue services, streetscaping, economic development, and enhanced law enforcement and security patrols."

It is also classified by the Census Bureau as a "Census Designated Place" (CDP), which by wide consensus, OSM has agreed that if these are to be mapped at all, the enclosing polygon or boundary relation should be tagged boundary=census rather than boundary=administrative (and hence, no admin_level=* tag).

So, while The Woodlands, Texas may be informally called a township, it is a Special Purpose District, not a city nor a township.  If it is to be mapped as a boundary, I believe a good case can be made (to wit) as boundary=census or perhaps what has been discussed before but seems to be seldom extant in the USA:  a boundary=SPD (there are many others, we simply do not map them frequently, if at all).

Thanks for bringing this up, allowing a wider discussion of these corner cases and how OSM has been characterizing them.


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