Associations have standing to challenge Austin’s tunneling under parkland

 

Spicewood Springs Road Tunnel Coalition, et al v City of Austin, et al., No. 03-11-00260-CV (Tex. App. – Austin June 6, 2013).

This is more of a litigator case turning on the standing of several associations to challenge the City of Austin’s decision to tunnel under various parklands as part of a water treatment plan project. The trial court granted the City’s plea to the jurisdiction holding the Plaintiffs did not have standing to make such a challenge and the Plaintiffs appealed. The Austin Court of Appeals reversed and remanded.

The court refused to provide a background history noting that the parties are well aware of them and that memorandum opinions should not be any longer than necessary. Essentially, the Plaintiffs sued arguing the City failed to comply with Chapter 26 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code when it approved the project. An analysis on those claims was not reached. The City’s plea to the jurisdiction asserted the associations did not have standing since the associations do not own any property subject to the tunneling. The associations countered some of their members owned property directly across the street from the parklands, already experienced noise and dust, and will suffer inconvenience and interference with the use and enjoyment of their property. Additionally, the name Plaintiff of Wheeler owned land across the street and routinely used the trails and facilities which would allegedly be damaged due to the tunneling.

The Third Court of Appeals held Plaintiffs alleged particularized injuries separate from the general public and that associational standing need only have one member to have individual standing in order to grant such standing to the association. The court reversed and remanded to the trial court for further processing.

If you would like to read this opinion click here.