Below is an update on the Petition Rights lawsuit from BCRC VP Grayson Cox, one of the plaintiffs in the suit:
STATEMENT ON VALID PETITION LAWSUIT RELATED TO THE GROVE
On Thursday, August 18th, Judge Dietz formally dismissed the valid petition suit between neighbors of The Grove and the City based on jurisdictional reasons. This news has generated a lot of confusion, and below are answers to the most common questions we’ve received:
What does dismissal based on jurisdiction mean? It means that the judge was concerned that deciding the case based on merits *prior* to City Council voting on The Grove PUD might be considered an improper “advisory opinion” that could be overturned on appeal.
Does this dismissal mean the neighbors lost? Nope! It means that neighbors must wait until a Council vote on the PUD in order for the case to be “ripe” for judgment by the court. The merits of the case were not considered in this decision to dismiss based on jurisdiction.
Was this lawsuit against ARG, the developer of The Grove? Nope! The valid petition suit was filed by neighbors of the proposed development against the City. This action was decided by both City staff, Council offices, and neighbors as the best way to resolve this legal question about the mandatory valid petition statute in State law. Neighbors and the City both wanted to get this legal question resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, ARG intervened in the lawsuit as an “interested party” and immediately threw up every roadblock possible for delaying a decision on the merits of the case. The only entity in this lawsuit that argued *for* a dismissal was ARG – not the City and not the neighbors.
Why did ARG want the lawsuit dismissed? Your guess is as good as ours, but it is somewhat ironic that ARG claims they are confident that mandatory valid petition rights can be denied in their zoning case but are also the only entity that tried to stop a judge from determining if that curious legal interpretation holds true.
Does this dismissal make it less likely the neighbors will win when they refile the lawsuit? We like to believe that the judges who reviewed this case saw the merits in our arguments regarding the mandatory valid petition statute in state law. Therefore, they wanted to make sure their affirmative decision to uphold State law could not be seen as an “advisory opinion” prior to an action by the Council.
We are more confident than ever that the mandatory valid petition statute applies to The Grove PUD’s zoning case and look forward to when the district court agrees with the plaintiffs and the 426 Austinites who filed two amicus briefs supporting our case.
One of the Many Plaintiffs Fighting for Equal Property Rights