Austin’s land development code lawsuit ruling appeal could last a year

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council on Thursday did not approve motions to drop or delay an appeal of the ruling in a lawsuit over the city’s land development code, paving the way for what could be a year-long appeal process, according to city legal staff.

The City of Austin has been working for months on its latest effort to revamp its land development code, which defines rules for building in the city. The previous effort, called CodeNEXT, was scrapped in 2018 after years of work. The city’s code hasn’t had a major overhaul in three decades.

One day after the City Council approved its first reading of the Code in December, 19 Austin residents filed a lawsuit over procedures and property rights. In March, a Travis County district court judge ruled in favor of those property owners.

City legal staff are moving forward with an appeal of the decision. On Thursday, while a few city council members proposed dropping or delaying the appeal, those motions did not pass.

The city’s legal department has said the city won’t move forward on a third reading of the code or do anything else against the district court’s ruling until the appeal is resolved.

In a statement, the council for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Doug Becker, called Austin’s appeal “unfortunate.”

“Protested properties are in legal limbo, because Judge Soifer’s order holds they can’t be rezoned without a supermajority vote,” Becker wrote. “Developers and property owners’ rights will remain uncertain as long as the matter is on appeal and not resolved. Uncertainty is not good for developers or the community.”

Becker said under the ruling, the city council can’t rezone the property of someone who’s filed a protest rights form without a 3/4 vote of the council.

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