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In re City of Pearland

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

January 9, 2018

IN RE CITY OF PEARLAND, TEXAS, Relator

         ORIGINAL PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS 149th District Court Brazoria County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 94272-CV

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Busby and Wise.

          SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         After court hours on the day before Thanksgiving (November 22, 2017), relator City of Pearland, Texas (the "City") filed a petition for writ of mandamus in this court. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 22.221 (West Supp. 2017); see also Tex. R. App. P. 52. In the petition, the City asked this court to compel the presiding judge of the 149th District Court of Brazoria County to vacate her November 21, 2017 Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"), in which the trial court enjoined the City from taking any action to proceed with annexation proceedings until the court made a determination of whether the City's actions regarding the annexation of parcel "L" were in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act. The TRO required the City to comply until the temporary injunction hearing set for December 4, 2017. The City also sought emergency temporary relief to permit the City Council to take a final vote on annexation as scheduled on November 27.

         The real parties-in-interest and plaintiffs below are FWG Partners, Ltd., Mark Allen, Jane Beeson, Arnold J. Curry, Michael R. Elliott, Michele Falzon, Gustavo Rodriguez, Kirk B. Taylor, and Joe R. Tennison ("Plaintiffs").

         On November 27, we issued an opinion granting the petition and directing the trial court to vacate its TRO. Given time constraints, we did not detail the reasons for our decision. In this supplemental opinion we explain those reasons.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On August 15, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 6 into law, with an effective date of December 1, 2017. This measure changed annexation law in Texas to require the consent of the majority of property owners for certain annexations. See Tex. Loc. Gov't Code Ann. § 43.0695 (West Supp. 2017).

         On August 31, 2017, the City approved Resolution Nos. R2017-173 and R2017-174, directing City staff to prepare annexation service plans for several areas in the City's extra-territorial jurisdiction. The City then mailed notice letters, dated August 29, 2017, to property owners, including Plaintiffs, informing them that they may be impacted by a future annexation.

         The City conducted public hearings on the proposed annexation October 9, 2017 and October 16 2017. The City posted notices for these two meetings, as required by the Texas Open Meetings Act, but Plaintiffs contend that the notices failed to describe the area to be annexed in the detail required by the Act.

         The final step in the annexation process is a vote by the City Council, on two separate days, to approve an ordinance providing for the annexation of the property. On November 13, 2017, the City Council voted to approve, on first reading, Ordinance 1551, annexing Area L into the City. The City was scheduled to vote on the ordinance, on second reading, at a meeting to be held on November 27, 2017, at 6:30 p.m.

         On November 20, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Petition, which alleged that the City, in the annexation process, had failed to comply with certain provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act and Chapter 43 of the Texas Local Government Code. Plaintiffs requested a temporary restraining order and a temporary injunction restraining the City from considering the annexation ordinance. Plaintiffs also requested permanent injunctive relief and a declaration that the City failed to comply with the Open Meetings Act and with Chapter 43.

         On November 21, 2017, the trial court signed its TRO, which enjoined the City from taking any action to proceed with annexation proceedings until the ...


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