TCAA, in conjunction with the Texas Municipal League, files amicus briefs and comments in support of cities on many issues. To keep up to date on the status of these issues, go to https://www.tml.org/DocumentCenter/View/2179/AmicusBriefUpdate_091520.
Subdivision Platting: RQ-0367-KP, Information a local jurisdiction must provide if denying or conditionally approving a plat under Chapter 212 of the Local Government Code and the authority of local governments to establish prerequisites to the submission of a plat application. This request asks two major questions: (1) what information must a local government provide if it denies or conditionally approves a plat under Chapter 212 of the Local Government Code and what remedy is available if a local government doesn’t provide that information; and (2) whether a local government may require a completeness review prior to accepting an application.
With regard to the first question, the black-letter law is crystal clear:
- A municipal authority or governing body that conditionally approves or disapproves a plan or plat shall provide the applicant a written statement of the conditions for the conditional approval or reasons for disapproval that clearly articulates each specific condition for the conditional approval or reason for disapproval. Tex. Local Gov’t Code § 212.0091(a).
- Each condition or reason specified in the written statement: (1) must be directly related to the requirements under the subdivision platting law and must include a citation to the law, including a statute or municipal ordinance, that is the basis for the conditional approval or disapproval, if applicable; and (2) may not be arbitrary. Id. § 212.0091(b).
The remedy for failure to comply with those requirements is automatic – a plan or plat is approved by the municipal authority, unless it is disapproved within the required time period and in accordance with the bill’s procedures. Id. § 212.009(b). If that happens, the authority – on the applicant’s request – shall issue a certificate stating the date the plan or plat was filed and that the authority failed to act on the plan or plat within the period. Id. § 212.009(d).
As for the requestor’s second series of questions, those lay bare a fundamental misunderstanding of the subdivision platting process because many cities have always required completeness review. In fact, H.B. 3167 envisions that process. Id. § 212.009(a) (“The municipal authority responsible for approving plats shall [take action on] a plan or plat within 30 days after the date the plan or plat is filed.”). Moreover, other law makes clear the authority to do so. Id. at § 245.002(f) (A local government may require “compliance with technical requirements relating to the form and content of an application”). The comment letter was filed on August 28, 2020.
Contract Liability: City of Corpus Christi v. Graham Construction Services, Inc., Cause No. 20-0606 in the Texas Supreme Court. TML, TCAA, TAC, and CUC filed an amicus brief in support of the City of Corpus Christi’s petition for review. The city contracted with Graham to build a water treatment plant. The city hired an independent contractor to design and manage the project. After many issues with the project, Graham sued. The city filed a plea to the jurisdiction alleging: (1) the notice provisions in the contract are not void; and (2) it was not liable for attorneys’ fees because the contract didn’t provide for them. The Corpus Christi Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of the city’s plea to the jurisdiction, and the city appealed.
TML, TCAA, TAC, and CUC filed an amicus brief in support of the city. Amici argue that Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 16.071 does not apply to the contract’s notice provisions because the notice required is not for a breach of contract. Rather, the notice provisions are for cost overruns and time delays. Amici also argue that Local Government Code Section 271.153 does not provide a substantive basis for recovering attorneys’ fees. The contract does not provide for attorneys’ fees. Therefore, Graham could not recover such fees under Section 271.153. The letter brief was filed on August 19, 2020.