Court denies city's plea in annexation lawsuit

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Note: This story was updated at 1:35 p.m. Friday, June 26, to add the response from city representatives.

Rulings were recently issued in favor of the E. 290 Owners’ Coalition, an unincorporated, nonprofit association, in its lawsuit filed against the City of Fredericksburg in the 216th Judicial District.

On June 2, the court ruled to deny the city’s plea to the jurisdiction.

The group is opposing the city’s efforts to annex 213.64 acres of land along U.S. 290 East.

The court granted the E. 290 Owners’ Coalition’s motion for determination of the law in accordance with rules 175 and 248 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and on their traditional motion for a summary judgement on the city’s design standards and guidelines.

The court’s reasons to deny the city’s plea was that they tried annexing the land of the owners’ coalition’s property owners, while an injunction prohibiting such action was in place.

Another reason was the city hadn’t completed material elements of the annexation process for the owners’ coalition’s members’ properties as of May 24, the date the new version of the Texas Local Government Code Chapter 43 went into effect.

The court also recognized that in order for the city to plead injury and damages, the real parties’ in interest must be identified. The court will determine if this is necessary at a later date.

As of now, the E. 290 Owners’ Coalition can proceed with the lawsuit.

Lastly, the court said chapter 3,000 of the Texas Government Code prevents the city from imposing design guidelines under the circumstances such as those involved in this case.

City Attorney Daniel Jones released a statement regarding the court’s order, saying no comments can be made at this time.

“It’s premature to comment on the court’s decision, as the city has not yet had an opportunity to fully discuss the court’s orders with outside counsel representing the city in this case,” Jones wrote. “The city council is expected to consider and discuss this case at the July 6 city council meeting, and at that time the city council may consider all available options for moving forward in the case.”

The court granted the owners’ coalition’s motion after finding the city’s design standards and guidelines under the Comprehensive Plan Design Standards are too vague to be enforceable.