Grove Approaching Council Date
Neighbors' valid petition suit still pending
The ongoing saga of the proposed Grove at Shoal Creek planned unit development continued last week as the surrounding homeowners' valid petition lawsuit went to court. Neighbors believe the city is misinterpreting its code by not considering initial zoning of the formerly state-owned land to be a change in zoning.
Both sides made it clear they wanted Judge Amy Clark Meachum to rule on whether or not the surrounding neighbors' valid petition rights should trigger a requirement that a City Council supermajority be needed to approve the Grove PUD, but a major sticking point was Meachum's belief that she cannot make a ruling before Council has actually acted. "The reason I am raising it, even though no side has, is I am ethically prohibited by the judicial canons from issuing advisory opinions, even when parties want me to," Meachum said. "It's an important part of our separation of powers."
In March, the neighbors preemptively filed a valid petition with the city before proceeding with the lawsuit (see "Grove PUD Neighbors Sue City," May 6). According to plaintiff Grayson Cox, vice president of the Bull Creek Road Coalition, they hoped the court would rule in their favor, and force a supermajority vote at Council. That didn't happen last week, although Meachum did assign the plaintiff's attorney the task of finding cases that show a court ruling before a city agency has acted. That "homework" to address her jurisdictional concerns is due on Fri., Aug. 5.
The other side, represented by the city (the original defendant) and the developer ARG Bull Creek, Ltd., resisted the neighbors' arguments, saying that since the property has never been zoned, the supermajority rule doesn't apply. In a statement, ARG said they expect Meachum to review the documents and make a ruling "in the near future."
"Given that the City staff and City legal department have already very carefully and impartially reviewed this issue and made a determination in this case that is consistent with state law, case law, local ordinance and a long-established municipal process, we see no reason why the case will not proceed according to the City's ordinary zoning process," the statement continued.
The Grove is currently scheduled to hit the full council on Thu., Aug. 11, although there is speculation that the transportation bond discussion could push it back even further. The BCRC, of course, said it would welcome that delay.