City sued over new historic district
A lawsuit was filed on Friday against the City of Fredericksburg to petition the expansion of its historic district.
The ordinance was voted in by the Fredericksburg City Council on June 17, but now the plaintiffs claim it has affected the sale of their property.
According to the petition filed by Drought, Drought and Bobbitt, LLP, the complainants, identified as Ed and Rena Blair, are attempting to sell their property at 602 West Travis Street.
“The property is mostly underdeveloped with the exception of a dilapidated structure that was built around 1910,” the court documents stated. “It was once used as a single-family dwelling but has since degraded and has not been maintained. It is in a state of severe disrepair and cannot be brought to insurable, livable and or rentable status without major capital expenditures.”
Due to the state of the property, the owners are unable to sell it, as potential buyers have been daunted by the “high” historic district designation their property now has, based of the 2018 survey that was completed by the city, said attorney Matt Badders, who is representing the clients.
It was also recommended through the 2018 survey that the property be given a Local Historic Landmark designation.
In late May, the Texas House and Senate passed House Bill 2496, which amends Section 211 of the Local Government Code.
The amendment states “the municipality must provide the property owner a statement that describes the impact of the historic designation of the owner’s property.”
According to documents filed, the Blairs did not receive “appropriate notice letters or statement of impact as required.”
The document also states that according to the Local Government Code, a vote of four out of five was required by the city council to pass the ordinance.
When the vote was taken, three members voted in favor of the ordinance for an expanded historic district, while one opposed it and one abstained.
The plaintiffs questioned whether the city changed its voting rules to accommodate passage of the ordinance, knowing that Councilman Bobby Watson would abstain, as he resides in the historic district.
A judge has also issued a restraining order, meaning the city is unable to enforce the rules included in the historic district expansion ordinance.