TEXAS (April 1, 2010)—The Texas Supreme Court has given the City of Buda until April 22 to respond to a charge that Buda councilmembers illegally refused to give residents a chance to overturn a land use change approved by the council last June.
The court’s demand for an answer from the city is the first glimmer of hope on the legal front for Buda citizens hoping to stop US Foodservice from locating in a portion the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) where the land use change was approved.
In November, a three-judge Texas Third Court of Appeals panel sided with the city, finding that a change in a land use plan is not subject to referendum because the city charter only specifies “ordinances” as being subject to referenda, and a land use change is a resolution, rather than an ordinance. The justices also ruled that a land use change is not subject to a referendum because it is not “legislative in character.”
In February, the appeals court denied a re-hearing for former Buda Mayor Jim Hollis and Buda realtor Christopher Juusola, who had sued councilmembers on behalf of pro-referendum Budites.
Undeterred, Hollis and Juusola filed a Motion to Stay and a Petition for Writ of Mandamus with the Texas Supreme Court on March 18. In their Writ of Mandamus, Hollis and Juusola ask the Texas Supreme Court to order councilmembers to place the referendum on the ballot for a vote.
In June 2009, a 5-2 vote of the Buda City Council allowed light industrial uses within 95 acres of Buda’s ETJ, paving the way for US Foodservice to locate a warehouse and distribution facility in Sunfield Municipal Utility District (MUD) No. 1. Councilmembers Sandra Tenorio and Ron Fletcher cast the two dissenting votes.
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