City of Terrell, Texas, et al. v. Frederick George Edmonds, et al., 05-19-01248-CV and 05-19-01382-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas, September 8, 2020)
These are consolidated appeals from the case where several property owners sought to prevent annexation of a 1,000-foot wide strip of land. The Dallas Court of Appeals reversed the injunction order and dismissed the claims.
The City is surrounded by four major entryways and sought to annex 1,000-foot strips along each highway. The areas were divided into discrete subsections for annexation. The City’s Home Rule Charter requires that a proposed ordinance must be considered at two separate meetings for the ordinance to be effective. The agenda designated the proposed annexation areas into 10 individual ordinances, intending to annex separate phases over time. However, before the first ordinance reading could occur, the plaintiffs obtained a temporary restraining order against the City. Plaintiff’s sought declaratory relief under the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”), Chapter 43 of the Texas Local Government Code (which regulates annexations) and injunction relief. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction. However, the trial court conducted a temporary injunctive hearing and granted the temporary relief. The City appealed the injunction order. Approximately thirty days after the injunction order, the trial court denied the City’s plea to the jurisdiction. The City filed a separate appeal.
As to the temporary injunction order, the City argued the issue was not yet ripe as the first reading of an ordinance is not the passage of an ordinance subjecting the plaintiffs to a likely injury. After analyzing the record, the panel held the City had taken no action to violate either (i) the City Charter or (ii) the Texas Local Government Code because the City had made no final decision regarding the proposed annexation ordinances. The trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to grant the TRO and injunction. Further, quo warranto is the only means to challenge annexation proceedings which are not void from the start. As a result, the plaintiffs cannot circumvent the quo warranto doctrine by bringing a TOMA claim. The court reversed the granting of the injunction and dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims based on a lack of jurisdiction.
If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel consists of Justice Schenck,
Justice Osborne and Justice Pedersen.