submitted by Allan McMurtry [Email address: amcmurtry #AT# austin.rr.com - replace #AT# with @ ]
In a filled room of the Northwest Austin Recreation Center Thursday, November 29, the General Membership made and carried, overwhelmingly, a motion to file an appeal of the Allandale Neighborhood Association (ANA) lawsuit if the Responsible Growth for Northcross (RG4N) lawsuit fails. The motion carried by greater than a 10-to-1 margin.
It was an evening filled with data, information, discussion, and legal advice. Sets of minutes, a chronology of the suit, and a complete accounting of ANA finances were available at the beginning of the meeting, and the lawyers for Allandale arrived after the preliminaries to discuss the issues and options.
Joe Reynolds laid out the finances of the ANA, currently $19,986.87 in the general fund, savings, and legal fund accounts. At the close of business on January 24, 2007, the general fund and savings accounts (there was no legal fund) held uncommitted assets of $13,706.23. The current liabilities include a bill for legal services of $30, 892.36. To date, the ANA has raised a net of $36,807.82.
The law firm represented by Bruce Bigelow has set up a payment schedule for Allandale that can be met. If the appeal is successful, ANA will ask for attorneys’ fees. As a point of reference, it was noted that the City of Austin has paid legal counsel $425,000 to fight the efforts to obtain a public hearing on the Northcross site plan.
Allan McMurtry laid out the chronology of events dating back to 2005, the issues facing ANA, and the city actions leading up to the lawsuit and the legal challenge taken by Allandale. He also covered the two other significant lawsuits filed within Allandale: the action against the now defunct Allandale Baptist Church and the lawsuit against the Texas Highway Department over the cross town, elevated freeway down Koenig and Allandale. He pointed out that both of those successful lawsuits began with a defeat.
Katie Hansen discussed the issues of the legal steps ANA had taken. This included the reasoning behind pursuing a declaratory judgment. She also described the legal events that had occurred between the July 3rd filing by ANA and the hearing before Judge Cooper on November 1, 2007.
The lawyers for Allandale, Bruce Bigelow and Maura Phelan, took center stage to explain what had happened in the intervening 10 months. They described the legal reasoning for our position: the city ordinance was clear and to the point that a Public Hearing was required of the Lincoln Property (owners of Northcross) site plan. This did not occur; therefore, a new site plan must be filed and processed.
The new site plan would require a public hearing and allow citizens of Allandale to present facts and documents to the city council on an array of problems created by such a large retail facility.
The floor was opened for discussion by ANA president Tom Linehan; 10-12 people took about 3 minutes to raise issues or make points. At the conclusion of that session, a motion for the solution to the current question of whether to pursue an appeal came from Barbara Grant. After two friendly amendments, the final motion passed as follows: “I move that we vote to appeal this recent judgment; should RG4N’s lawsuit fail, Allandale will file its appeal immediately; if the RG4N case prevails, we will not appeal.” After earnest discussion, the vote was taken. There were 35 registered voters for the motion and 3 registered voters against it.