Developers have standing to challenge City’s Fair Notice Ordinance under Chapter 245

San Antonio v Greater San Antonio Builders Ass., No. 04-12-00745-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, May 22, 2013)

This is a declaratory judgment case challenging the City of San Antonio’s ordinance which requires a particular application be submitted before the City will recognize a property owners vested rights under Chapter 245 of the Texas Local Government Code. The Greater San Antonio Builders Association (“GSABA”) and others sought declaratory judgment the ordinance was void and preempted by Chapter 245.  The trial court signed a collection of orders essentially voiding the ordinance.  The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction asserting GSABA did not have standing (no justiciable controversy existed because Plaintiff did not filed an actual application on which adverse action was taken) which the trial court denied.  The City appealed, but the Fourth Court of Appeals affirmed the denial.

The court held that a plaintiff is not required to be a permit applicant to bring a declaratory judgment action under Chapter 245; standing as property owners is sufficient. The court also rejected the contention a property owner must be issued or denied a permit in order to have standing. The City’s threat to impose the requirements of the Fair Notice Ordinance as a prerequisite to acknowledging vested rights was direct and immediate.  The fact the ordinance required an application is, alone, sufficient grounds to seek declaratory relief.

The court did not address the trial court’s orders which actually held the ordinance void, since this was an interlocutory appeal.  At the time of its filing, the issue of attorney’s fees was unresolved.

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