Help needed! Update on Valid Petition Lawsuit on The Grove

Good morning, neighbors!

I’ll start with an apology: you’re going to get a lot of Grove emails this week. In spite of the fact that there are massive gaps in the information required to make an informed decision on the biggest zoning case in Central Austin history, City Council looks like it’s bowing to the relentless pressure from Milestone/Topfer to hear this case on Thursday. It’s going to be a busy week, and we’re going to need a ton of help from you.

As you’ve heard, the hearing on Valid Petition rights for the neighbors within 200′ of the site didn’t produce a verdict this week. The judge will come back to the case AFTER the City Council has voted to determine if they violated the rights granted to the plaintiffs by State law. This gives the City Council an opportunity to get the City’s policy in line with State law now, so their vote won’t be overturned by Judge Meacham later.

Below, BCRC’s VP Grayson Cox spells out a lot of the details and explains very clearly why the City’s policy is in conflict with the State law. We know that in 2008, City Council adopted a unanimous resolution to sort out this problem, but City Staff failed to comply with the directive. We also know that in this case, City staff told us that Valid Petition would be in play as late as April 2015. Sources inside the review have confirmed that this was not just an error, there was a plan in place to resolve the conflict with State law, but apparently, pressure from Milestone on Management changed that. What been done to these neighbors in this case is absolutely disgraceful.

Take a moment to read Grayson’s legal wrap-up below, then take a minute to tap out an email to City Council today. We need to flood them with emails.

- Pick any topic- there’s an abundance of issues (Valid Petition rights, Bike Lanes, the “Road House”, Parks, Flooding, Affordable Housing, Traffic, Common Sense).
- Put it in your own words; they’ll get some robo-emails from the other side, but they just trash those.
- Be sure to tell them you’re from Rosedale!
- It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent, just let them know that we expect them to get this right and deliver a truly Superior PUD that’s a win-win for all.

(Council email addresses below)

Chris Allen
W. 39 1/2 St.

Council emails: Steve.Adler@austintexas.gov, Ora.Houston@austintexas.gov, Delia.Garza@austintexas.gov, Sabino.Renteria@austintexas.gov, Greg.Casar@austintexas.gov, Ann.Kitchen@austintexas.gov, Don.Zimmerman@austintexas.gov, Leslie.Pool@austintexas.gov, Ellen.Troxclair@austintexas.gov, Kathie.Tovo@austintexas.gov, Sheri.Gallo@austintexas.gov

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Grayson M Cox
Date: Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 1:14 AM
Subject: Update on Valid Petition Lawsuit on The Grove PUD
To:

Dear Mayor and Council,

You’ve likely heard by now that City staff decided to deny neighbors of The Grove PUD valid petition rights, and neighbors filed suit against to have the District Court determine if valid petition rights – as mandated by the Valid Petition Rights Statute of the Zoning Enabling Act – apply to The Grove’s zoning case.

Although both the City and neighbors wanted this issue settled prior to Council considering The Grove case, Judge Meachum of the 201st District Court decided that Council – you – must act first. Essentially, the judge wants you to decide if the valid petition filed in this case is valid and triggers a super-majority vote. And if you agree with Greg Guernsey’s opinion that the valid petition does not apply even though it meets all legal requirements, the case will be litigated and the judge will decide if that decision was in contravention of State law.

Since this initial decision to recognize the valid petition filed against The Grove PUD is yours, courtesy of the District Court, I wanted to explain why the valid petition DOES apply and Mr. Guernsey’s opinion is wrong:

The issue is simple: Can the City rewrite a State statute with an ordinance? The statute says valid petition rights apply whenever there are regulation changes. There are at least 27 regulation changes proposed by The Grove PUD application, not to mention the necessary amendment to the Land Development Code to create a PUD with its own special zoning. The city ordinance relied upon by Mr. Guernsey’s opinion ignores the statute language on regulation change and goes off on a different concept not in the Valid Petition Rights Statute.

The Texas Constitution says cities cannot do that, and when there is an “inconsistency” like this, the city ordinance is preempted and invalid. No court can avoid that and this issue was not addressed in the Appolo Development case also relied upon by Mr. Guernsey’s opinion.

None of the sound and fury of The Grove’s developer (or the City staff for that matter) can get around what the constitution says and what the courts say regarding the requirement of strict compliance with the Valid Petition Rights Statute. This is not an instance where the City has discretion in how it writes its ordinances, and the Judge made reference to this in her questions to The Grove’s attorney.

The simple solution for you, the City Council, is simply to say it will comply with the constitution and the superiority of the state statute and recognize valid petition rights and the super-majority voting requirement. If the City wants to preserve its ordinance, it should construe this case to be “rezoning” as it did with the 1994 rezoning case of a portion of this same former State tract, and/or because PUD’s always require a rezoning amendment changing the zoning from the base district regulations (Exhibit O of the Staff Report) to the PUD regulations under the City Code.

Another obvious factor in this case is the inclusion of the 2627 45th Street lot in The Grove PUD and how that changes the boundaries of the neighboring SF-2 zoning district – a classic example of “rezoning” under the City Code. None of the silly denials by The Grove’s developer can change the reality, confirmed by the City staff documents, that the 45th Street lot will be part of the PUD “site” and “infrastructure” (as opposed to off-site) and “integral to the viability” of the proposed development, with uses completely alien to its current SF-2 zoning – uses Mr. Guernsey admitted in his deposition would not be allowed without a zoning change. Boundary change is the other ground, in addition to regulation change, for valid petition rights under the State statute.

What’s the bottom line? City staff, at the behest of The Grove’s developer, changed their minds early last year and decided to interpret the Land Development Code in a way that contradicts State law and creates an illegal loophole to deny neighbors their valid petition rights. Neighbors filed a valid petition against The Grove anyways, and City staff verified that the petition meets all the applicable requirements to be valid, but denied it nonetheless.

If Council does not correct this injustice and comply with State law when you consider and vote on The Grove PUD, neighbors are confident that a District Court will determine that the valid petition is indeed valid and will invalidate Council’s vote.

How can we avoid this mess altogether? Council should indicate its support for BCRC’s beneficial amendments to The Grove PUD http://www.bcrcatx.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/BCRC-Amended-Grove-PUD-Summary-for-ZAP1.pdf and that its approval relies on the developer’s agreement to these amendments. (I suspect you might be surprised how quickly The Grove’s developer gets on board.)

These amendments increase residential and affordable housing, decrease traffic, and ensure truly superior community benefits in exchange for an unprecedented amount of development entitlements (1 million square feet over the staff’s baseline). With approval of the BCRC’s proposed amendments to The Grove PUD, all six surrounding neighborhoods and the BCRC will drop their opposition to the case and the valid petition issue will be moot.

There’s a free and clear off-ramp to this traffic jam, and it’s the approval of the BCRC’s amendments to The Grove PUD. Please do the right thing, and thankfully in this case, the right thing is also the way to avoid a legal snarl that would likely invalidate a city ordinance.

Lastly, I understand this is a LOT of information to digest, and you all have a ton on your plate right now. I’ll be happy to answer any questions from you or your staff, and many would support a postponement of The Grove so these and other many issues can be better understood.

Thank you for everything you all do for our city!

Grayson Cox
2621 W 45th

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BCRC+Amendments+Table

Please Sign the Amicus Brief for the Grove Lawsuit

Below is a reminder from BCRC’s Michelle Cheng about the amicus brief. It’s a great way to help the cause without having to spend a nickel or show up at a hearing. Please consider to sign up today and encourage your neighbors to sign up as well.

For info on the issues in the lawsuit, the Statesman ran a front-page story last week that sums it up nicely: http://atxne.ws/29TGu4C

“LAST CHANCE to sign the brief supporting the plaintiffs in the petition rights lawsuit! Signing the brief does not cost anything and does not require you to be present for any of the hearings or trials in the case – it’s basically the legal equivalent of signing a petition supporting the plaintiffs’ fight to have petition rights just like every other citizen of Austin. More information and the sign-up form can be found at the link below. It takes just 10 seconds to sign up! The briefs will be filed next week, so please sign up today! Teamwork makes the dream work!”

Sign up by noon on Thursday, July 28th: http://www.bcrcatx.org/amicus-sign-up/

RNA neighbor meeting – Monday, July 25

YarboroughDear Rosedale,

The Rosedale Neighborhood Association will hold its regular monthly meeting on all things Rosedale on Monday evening, July 25, 2016, at 6:45 pm at the Yarborough Library on Hancock.

This month’s agenda will include:

  1. Upcoming Events: Pool Party, Ramsey Park Pool, Saturday, August 20, 2016—Richard & Kim Relph
  2. Upcoming Events: Commanders Forum, Thursday, July 28, 2016. The meeting will be held from 6:30-8:00pm at the Cornerstone Church, 1101 Reinli Street
  3. Ramsey Park—paver status from Mindy?
  4. The Grove—update from Chris & Gina
  5. Shoal Creek Blvd Bike Safety Improvements—discussion with Miller Nuttle, Bike Austin

You are welcome to bring up anything else of interest to the neighborhood and to participate in the discussion.

Hope to see you there!

 

July 4th Parade, Watermelon, and Water Balloon Toss

july4After a thoughtful conversation with our members and the RNA steering committee at the meeting Monday night, it was decided to have a scaled-down version of the July 4th festivities at Ramsey Park, since so many people will be going out of town for the 3-day weekend. It takes a about 70 volunteers to run the parade and carnival, and as of Monday, we only had 24 signed up. This is not the kind of event that can easily be pulled together at the last minute. So we will not be having the carnival and drinks/bake sale, but we will still be having these fun events:

  • 9:30 — Gather at the bleachers to decorate hats, bikes and strollers
  • 10 — Parade around Ramsey Park
  • 10:15 — Enjoy sliced watermelon with your neighbors
  • 10:30 — Water balloon toss

If anyone wants to set up some free activities on their own, that would be great! The Ramsey Park carnival has been the fundraiser for Ramsey Park for many years; thanks to the hard work of Alison Alter and the Ramsey Park Renovation committee, we are not solely dependent on the carnival’s resources to help us finish the renovation projects. We are looking forward to having the carnival again next year, and are hoping more people will be able to volunteer. Thanks and see you on the 4th!

Need emails, and showing for Environmental Commission Review of The Grove

Please email the environment commission by Wednesday of this week
requesting a truly superior Grove at Shoal Creek development. That’s when the
commission will be reviewing the superiority of the environmental aspects of The
Grove at Shoal Creek Planned Unit Development (PUD). City zoning requires a
PUD development be superior in many aspects in order to gain the very
valuable and flexible PUD zoning designation. We should expect great things
out of PUD applications. We should require significant superiority from The
Grove.

The Environmental Commission is tasked with looking at the following
elements of The Grove PUD:
- Parks and Open Space
- Heritage and protected tree preservation
- Drainage and flood mitigation
- Water quality protection
- Noise and air pollution (from traffic, etc.)
- Green buildings (LEED, etc.)
…and more,

Currently, the Grove is barely scraping by on minimum levels of city code
requirements. We should expect higher than expected benefits in parkland, tree protection, drainage and flood protection, noise abatement and sustainable practices.
Remember, just last week the City’s Parks Board voted to support staff’s
recommendation of the PUD application by The Grove not being superior on parks.

Personal emails are best! Use the email addresses below to send the
environmental commissioners your priorities, pictures, thoughts and dreams
of a superior Grove PUD. You can get ideas for what to include in your letter here: http://www.bcrcatx.org/. Your emails matter and will help our goal to “Build a Better PUD!”

If you can, please join your Rosedale neighbors at Austin City Hall Wednesday, June 1st at 6pm
for the commission hearing. Bring friends too! Numbers matter! The developers are offering residents of Westminster Manor a “limo bus” and free BBQ at City Hall for anyone who shows up to support them. We need to exceed their numbers!

Environmental Commissioner email addresses for copying/pasting (note the bc- is a part of the email addresses, don’t remove it):

bc-Marisa.Perales@austintexas.gov; bc-Andrew.Creel@austintexas.gov;
bc-Erin.Gooch@austintexas.gov; bc-Richard.Grayum@austintexas.gov;
bc-linda.h.guerrero@austintexas.gov; bc-Peggy.Maceo@austintexas.gov;
bc-Michael.Moya@austintexas.gov; bc-MaryAnn.Neely@austintexas.gov;
bc-Brian.Smith@austintexas.gov; bc-Hank.Smith@austintexas.gov;
bc-Pam.Thompson@austintexas.gov

If the above email addresses do not copy/paste correctly into your
email client, try this list:

bc-Marisa.Perales@austintexas.gov,
bc-Andrew.Creel@austintexas.gov,
bc-Erin.Gooch@austintexas.gov,
bc-Richard.Grayum@austintexas.gov,
bc-linda.h.guerrero@austintexas.gov,
bc-Peggy.Maceo@austintexas.gov,
bc-Michael.Moya@austintexas.gov,
bc-MaryAnn.Neely@austintexas.gov,
bc-Brian.Smith@austintexas.gov,
bc-Hank.Smith@austintexas.gov,
bc-Pam.Thompson@austintexas.gov

 

Cc the City Council in your email. Addresses are below.

RNA neighbor meeting – Monday, May 23

YarboroughDear Rosedale,

The Rosedale Neighborhood Association will hold its regular monthly meeting on all things Rosedale on Monday evening, May 23, 2016, at 6:45 pm at the Yarborough Library on Hancock.

This month’s agenda will include:

      • A presentation by representatives of Bike Austin regarding efforts to work with the City of Austin to fund Austin’s Bicycle Master Plan and high-priority sidewalks in the Sidewalk Master Plan
      • A report from our representatives to the BCRC regarding the current status of the Grove, including consideration of RNA action regarding upcoming city Parks Board review of the Grove park proposals and a discussion of the zoning lawsuit brought by neighbors of the proposed development
      • An update on Ramsey Park as we wind down the park redevelopment project, including a status report on the inscribed paver walk
      • Planning discussions for the 4th of July activities for this year, including the need for volunteers to help us old hands plan and oversee the carnival
      • An update on noise from local A/C sources and efforts to alleviate some of the worst offenders around Rosedale

You are welcome to bring up anything else of interest to the neighborhood and to participate in the discussion.

Hope to see you there!

Jeff Archer

RNA Co-President

April RNA Meeting Cancelled!

YarboroughThe Rosedale Neighborhood Association meeting scheduled for Monday, April 25, 2016 has been cancelled. The City of Austin is using the room for the local election. The next meeting will be May 23, 2016.

RNA neighbor meeting – Monday, March 28

YarboroughDear Rosedale,

The Rosedale Neighborhood Association will hold its regular monthly meeting on all things Rosedale on Monday evening, March 28, 2016, at 6:45 pm at the Yarborough Library on Hancock.

This month’s agenda will include:

  • Grove BCRC updates
  • AC noise abatement efforts

We welcome discussion of anything else you are interested in bringing up… surprise us!

Please attend if you want to be in the know or participate in the discussion.

Hope to see you there!

Jeff Archer

RNA Co-President