Breaking News
More () »

No ruling in first hearing for lawsuit aimed at Austin's CodeNext

The city is facing a lawsuit over CodeNext, which is the re-write of Austin's land development code.

No decision was made in court Monday in the battle over one of Austin's most controversial proposals -- CodeNext.

The city is facing a lawsuit over CodeNext, which is the re-write of Austin's land development code. It determines how land can be used, what can be built and where. Earlier this year-- nearly 32,000 residents signed a petition calling for a new ordinance that would require voter approval before any comprehensive rewrite of the land development code, including Code Next, could go into effect.


Boomtown's past, present and future: The KVUE live documentary

The City Council had two options; accept the ordinance language or put it on the November ballot and let the voters decide. The council didn't do either; prompting a group of residents to sue the city council.

In court Monday, the city's attorney argued it would be improper for the council to call an election because Texas law states residents can't vote on zoning matters.

"The city council, by state law, has to have a mandatory hearing before doing zoning. Because you can't have a hearing before the entire electorate, that's the rationale that courts have said for why zoning has been withdrawn from the field," Jane Webre said after the hearing.

"State law says that if a subject has been withdrawn from the field then the election itself is improper," she added.

But Fred Lewis, who's representing the plaintiffs, said it's not that black and white.

"They say all zoning has been categorically removed from the field, comprehensive revisions in Code Next. There's no case that says that and there's no statute that says that," Lewis said.

"What the city doesn't acknowledge is that to keep people from voting there has to be a clear and compelling reason," he added. "It isn't just the city has a good argument. They have to have the only argument that's reasonable. And it has to be un-mistakenly clear to keep people from voting."

According to KVUE's Ashley Goudeau, the judge said because of the impending deadline to put the item on the November ballot, she will make her ruling on the lawsuit as soon as possible.

The City Council has until Aug. 20 to put an item on the November ballot.