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Sewell v. City of Llano

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

January 29, 2014

Marc Sewell, Appellant
v.
City of Llano, Brenton Lewis, Diane Firestone, Letitia McCasland, Marcy Methvin, Todd Keller, Jeanne Puryear and Tom Milam, Appellees

FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF LLANO COUNTY, 33RD JUDICIAL DISTRICT NO. 18504, HONORABLE J. ALLAN GARRETT, JUDGE PRESIDING.

Before Chief Justice Jones, Justices Pemberton and Field

MEMORANDUM OPINION

J. Woodfin Jones, Chief Justice

Appellant Marc Sewell filed a "Verified Petition" pursuant to Texas Local Government Code section 211.011 complaining of actions taken by the Llano City Planning and Zoning Commission and the Llano City Council. See Tex. Loc. Gov't Code § 211.011. Section 211.011 provides for judicial review of decisions of a board of adjustment.[1] See id. § 211.011(a). A person aggrieved by a decision of the board of adjustment may present a verified petition stating that the decision of the board of adjustment is illegal in whole or in part. Id. The court may grant a writ of certiorari directed to the board requiring it to file a verified return setting forth facts that show the ground of the decision being challenged. Id. § 211.011(c). In the present case, the district court, without conducting a hearing on the merits of Sewell's claims, issued the following order: "After consideration of the Verified Petition for Judicial Review, it is hereby ordered that the Writ of Certiorari is denied." Sewell attempts to appeal from that order.

Appellees have filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, asserting that the order appealed from is not a final, appealable order. We agree. This Court has jurisdiction only in cases where a final judgment has been rendered or where a statute specifically authorizes an interlocutory appeal. See Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 195 (Tex. 2001). A judgment is final for purposes of appeal if it disposes of all pending parties and claims. Id. The trial court's denial of a writ of certiorari does not end a suit for judicial review brought pursuant to section 211.011. See Hagood v. City of Houston Zoning Bd. of Adjustment, 982 S.W.2d 17, 18 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1998, no pet.) ("The denial of the writ does not end this case."). Subsection 211.011(e) provides that the trial court may take evidence or appoint a referee for that purpose, and subsection 211.011(f) states that "[t]he court may reverse or affirm, in whole or in part, or modify the decision that is appealed." Id. § 211.011(e), (f). In the present case, the trial court's one-sentence order does not constitute a ruling on the merits.

Moreover, while Sewell purports to bring a suit for judicial review pursuant to section 211.011, his petition actually asserts that the Llano City Zoning and Planning Commission and the Llano City Council violated certain local and state regulations related to the procedures to be followed when establishing zoning ordinances. Sewell requests that the court "rescind" the changes made to the ordinances.[2] The trial court's order does not dispose of Sewell's complaints regarding the manner in which the ordinances were changed.[3]

The order denying a writ of certiorari does not dispose of all pending claims, and the district court has therefore not rendered a final, appealable judgment. Accordingly, we grant appellees' ...


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