by BRAD ROLLINS
A Henly resident is seeking to invalidate development regulations adopted last August with a lawsuit filed in state district court that argues Hays County did not properly analyze the financial impact minimum lot sizes and other rules would have on property owners.
James K. “Jimmy” Skipton, among the most vocal critics of the new regulations when they were adopted seven months ago, contends that a Takings Impact Assessment finalized in December 2008 is invalid because it did not consider a host of provisions that were not part of the original draft but were added before adoption. The suit also claims the Takings Impact Assessment did not meet state requirements because it was not conducted by a certified appraiser and because it was completed too early in the rules-drafting process.
The county is relying on a Takings Impact Assessment that “did not assess how the combined effects of new water and wastewater demonstrations, required minimum lot sizing, parkland and open space property dedication, easement dedication for use by the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, minimum roadway setback amendments … would constitute a taking” under state law, Skipton’s lawsuit states.
Skipton’s lawsuit seeks a judgement “declaring defendant’s adoption and implementation of the [development regulations] void and invalid” and reimbursement of attorney’s fees. He is represented by Randall H. Robinson of Willow City, a former Hays County resident and Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board member.
Skipton owns about 130 acres in far northwesern Hays County which he says he may want to divide up someday for a residential subdivision. His lawsuit argues that new six acre minimum lots, an increase from 1.5 acres under the 1997 regulations, constitute a “taking” of his property.
In an initial response filed on Monday, Hays County argues that Skipton’s suit is invalid on jurisdictional grounds because it was filed more that 180 days after the rules were adopted on Aug. 18. Skipton said he met the deadline because the 180th day fell on a Sunday followed by a Monday holiday.
The county also invokes the doctrine of sovereign immunity which shields governments in some cases from being held liable for legislation. Further, the county’s response argues, that Skipton “should be required to clarify whether this is a taking action or one purely to declare certain regulations void and invalid.”
The Hays County Commissioners Court discussed the litigation behind closed doors in executive session on Tuesday. Hays County District Attorney Civil Division Chief Mark Kennedy, the court’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for an interview by press time.
The lawsuit is assigned to 22nd State District Court Judge Charles R. Ramsay.Email | Print