HOUSTON – The developers of Town Park Center, a retail complex in Sealy, won the latest round in a continuing lawsuit against the city of Sealy when the Court of Appeals for the 1st District of Texas dismissed an appeal from the 155th District Court in Austin on Aug. 24.
Town Park Center officials sued the city of Sealy, a town located in Austin County in Southeastern Texas, over an agreement to provide road frontage in a development agreement in which the city was to pay a share of road improvement, along with matching funds from Town Park Center, to Highway Interstate 10.
According to the Sealy News in a 2015 story, the Sealy City Council in October 2015 killed its planned share of the road improvement by a vote of 4-3, citing escalating cost estimates that had taken place over a several-year period. Texas Department of Transportation cost estimates had come in over budget and what had been an estimated $2 million project had grown to a projected $4 million by 2015, the paper reported. The city’s share of the costs had grown by $324,000.
The Sealy News reported that city council members said the cost for the road improvements had grown too high, especially at a time when sewer upgrades needed to be performed.
According to the appellate court decision, Town Park obtained an order in an attempt to keep the city from backing out of its share of the road improvements and sued the city, its mayor and city manager. The city was allowed by the court a “plea to jurisdiction” to be freed from the lawsuit, but not the mayor and city manager.
The mayor and city manager filed an appeal, which resulted in a stay of the case until the appeal could be resolved.
Town Park officials opted to ask the trial court to lift the stay so that they could seek a “nonsuit,” negate the first suit and its claims, so the developer could file a second (new) lawsuit over the same economic development agreement with the city, the opinion states.
Town Park asked the Court of Appeals for the 1st District of Texas to dismiss the defendants' appeal, contending that throwing out the first suit had rendered the appeal by city officials irrelevant, or moot.
City officials countered by asking the court to deny the motion to dismiss the appeal - inappropriate they contended given that Town Park had filed a second, similar lawsuit.
The court found that Town Park’s non-suit had mooted the appeal and the appeal was dismissed.