Burnet County District Judge Evan Stubbs ruled in favor of the city of Double Horn at a hearing April 3. Stubbs said he would not hear the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s office.
The recently formed city of Double Horn has been declared invalid and void by Attorney General Ken Paxton for failure to comply with statutory requirements for incorporation and the mayor and council members are being sued for unlawfully holding office.
The 238-person Spicewood-area city was incorporated in December and the new city officials were sworn into office at the end of February.
Mayor Cathy Sereno and City Council members R.G. Carver, Bob Link, James E. Millard, Larry Trowbridge and Glenn Leisey, along with John Osborne, the City Marshal for Double Horn, are all being sued in their official capacities.
“Our office doesn’t object to a town or village wanting to become a city, but it must be done according to Texas law,” said a statement from Marc Rylander, director of communications for the Texas attorney general. “In this case, the small homeowners association that voted to declare itself the city of Double Horn did so unlawfully by failing to comply with the statutory requirements for incorporation as a city. This is simply about defending the rule of law and preventing the abuse of power by a neighborhood.”
Spicewood Community Alliance is urging people to call Paxton to express concern, as well as Gov. Greg Abbott, Burnet County Commissioner Joe Don Dockery and County Judge James Oakley.
“I’ve asked people to ask Paxton why the state of Texas is taking issue with Texans trying to self rule and self govern,” Alliance President Matthew McCabe said, adding it seemed as if the state was siding with New York-based Dalrymple, which owns Spicewood Crushed Stone LLC.
McCabe said Double Horn officials are waiting to hear from their lawyers regarding what they can say to the public and press, but in the meantime officials from other parts of the state are contacting Spicewood Community Alliance asking how to contact the Double Horn Council to find out how they can help combat the lawsuit.
Details from the court filing
Prior to incorporation, Double Horn was a subdivision consisting of homesites and a single
common area that included a community pool and covered outdoor pavilion, according to the court filing that calls to revoke the corporate charter.
It states the subdivision has no wastewater utility and the homes rely on septic. The subdivision obtains its water from wells and the water is delivered by the Double Horn Creek Water Supply Corporation.
The nearby Spicewood Crushed Stone LLC, which owns about 281 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the eastern boundary of Double horn, does not get its water from the Double Horn Creek Water Supply.
Spicewood Crushed Stone plans to use its land for quarry operations and upon learning of that, some residents of the Double Horn subdivision began considering incorporation as a means to stop the company from operating a quarry on its land, the court file said.
In September some residents organized a petition to make an application to the Burnet County Judge to order an election for the municipal incorporation of Double Horn.
“Despite some irregularities in holding the incorporation election, the measure passed on December 6,” it continued. “The incorporated City of Double Horn includes within its boundaries the Double Horn subdivision and Spicewood Crushed Stone LLC’s property.”
Land within a town must be susceptible of receiving municipal services. According to the court file, there is no evidence the city of Double Horn intends to provide its commercial residents any services typically provided by cities.
“There is no central wastewater facility to connect to Spicewood Crushed Stone property; no stated plan to connect water service to Spicewood Crushed Stone property; and no stated plan to allow them to partake in the road improvement projects available to the subdivision or connect the property to the rest of the community.”
Additional reasoning for the invalidity of Double Horn, according to the attorney general, is listed here: