The Supreme Court of Texas on Friday denied two petitions—one from Plano and another from the group suing the city—to review a February decision from the state’s Fifth District Court of Appeals. The decision effectively leaves intact, for now, a lower court’s ruling that the courts can decide whether the city secretary is obligated to submit a petition for a referendum on the city’s comprehensive plan to Plano City Council.
City Attorney Paige Mims on Saturday said the city planned to continue contesting the claims, arguing the city’s comprehensive development plan is inextricably linked with the city’s zoning ordinances, and that the local legislative process that produced the plan cannot be replicated at the ballot box.
But Jack Ternan, an attorney for the group suing the city, said he hoped the city would reverse its stance rather than letting the case play out in the trial courts.
“From my perspective, they should recognize the city secretary should do their job” and submit the petition to the council, Ternan said. He added that his clients had already filed the case in the 380th District Court of Collin County, and would continue to argue their case after the appeals process is completed.
The city, which had argued the trial courts did not have jurisdiction to decide the matter, was dealt a blow in February when the appeals court ruled the trial courts could decide whether the city secretary should be compelled to submit the referendum petition to the City Council.
In the same February ruling, the appeals court had dismissed some of the group’s claims against the city for lack of jurisdiction. One of these dismissed claims asked the courts to require officials to suspend the Plano Tomorrow plan, readopt the city’s 1986 strategic plan and call a special election. After the Supreme Court’s petition denials on Friday, these additional requests remain off the table.
The city had already requested the appeals court reconsider its ruling, and Mims said it could also ask the same of the Supreme Court of Texas. After that, however, the main question—whether the city should be compelled to submit the petition to the City Council—could be placed in the hands of the trial court.