Published on September 7, 2021

The View from my Seat

Remember Iowa Colony? Well, it has changed – a lot

By Ernie Williamson / The Bulletin

Until recently, Iowa Colony was a small agricultural community that I suspect few Brazoria County residents knew much about.

Although motorists on Texas 288 would see exit signs for Iowa Colony, there was little reason to stop, unless you were pulled over by a police officer for speeding.

In the 1990s, Iowa Colony was notorious as a major speed trap and was one of the reasons a Texas statute now limits municipal profits from speed traps.

These days Iowa Colony is becoming known for other things. By percentages, this city just south of Alvin is becoming one of the fastest growing cities in the region.

Between the 2010 and 2020 census, the city grew at a rate of almost 30 percent annually and had its population jump from 1,170 to almost 5,000.

It is now estimated the population exceeds 10,000 and is expected to double in the next five years.
By mid-century, the city expects to be home to between 60,000 and 80,000 residents.

The growth is taking place as developers inexorably push south along Texas 288.

First it was to Pearland. Then to Manvel and Alvin. Now, it is Iowa Colony’s turn to meet the challenges posed by a swelling population.

The population growth along the Texas 288 corridor is a major reason Brazoria County is among 111 counties out of a total of 254 in the state that has added population in the last decade.

Much of Iowa Colony’s growth has resulted from new developments, Sterling Lakes on the west side of Texas 288 and Meridiana on the east.

The growth is also bringing greater diversity. The city already is a majority-minority community, and the city council reflects that diversity.

“The city’s dynamics are changing,” Mayor Michael Byrum-Bratsen told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s an exciting time for Iowa Colony, and it’s exciting to be a part of that growth, that change.”
To manage development, the city hired a consulting firm to create a road map for the future that addresses such concerns as land use, transportation, green space, drainage, water systems and public safety.

The goal is to add a suburban feel while keeping some of the city’s rural roots.

The residents also voted in 2020 to change the city’s form of government to Home Rule. This will allow the city to develop its own codes for future development as long as the codes don’t violate the state constitution.

“This gives our residents more local control,” says Byrum-Bratsen, who pushed Home Rule in his campaign. The mayor also doubles as a paramedic for Lake Jackson EMS.

Home Rule also allowed for the hiring of a city manager to take over administration functions. The mayor’s role becomes more ceremonial.

Robert Hemminger started work as the city’s first full-time city manager on July 19.

Hemminger, who holds an M.B.A. from Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, has years of experience in public service in the Pasadena - Deer Park area. He’s been a police dispatcher, fire department training chief, communications manager and an emergency management coordinator.

“I am certainly excited and looking forward to the opportunities we have here,” says Hemminger.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, Iowa Colony was founded in 1908 by the Immigration Land Company of Des Moines, Iowa, and received its name from G.I. Hoffman and Robert Beard.

The community received a post office in 1919, and rice farming was introduced in 1920.

The population remained at only about 27 residents, and by 1961 the post office had closed.

Later in the ‘60s, however, the settlement began to grow as part of the boom in the greater Houston area.

By 1973 Iowa Colony had been incorporated, and by 1989 the city had grown to 661.

Little did those 661 know that they were just the beginning.

(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)