Plano Tomorrow lawsuit: City suffers setback as court orders staff to present referendum petition to council

A committee meets Jan. 11 to discuss changes to the Plano Tomorrow plan. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
A committee meets Jan. 11 to discuss changes to the Plano Tomorrow plan. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

A committee meets Jan. 11 to discuss changes to the Plano Tomorrow plan. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Plano suffered a key reversal in an effort to protect its comprehensive development plan from a sustained effort to repeal it.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals on July 22 overruled a trial court’s previous decision and ordered the city secretary to present a referendum petition to the Plano City Council within two weeks.

In an email late July 22, City Attorney Paige Mims did not say whether the city plans to appeal the ruling. City staff plans to discuss the matter with council members in executive session at their July 27 meeting, Mims said.

“No steps will be taken prior to a discussion with City Council,” she said.

The petition, if submitted, aims to dismantle Plano Tomorrow, the long-term development vision that serves as a guide for the city’s zoning decisions.


Throughout the legal battle, the city has argued Plano Tomorrow is not subject to the referendum process. Comprehensive plans, the city has said, are inextricably linked with a city’s zoning ordinances. Furthermore, Plano has argued, the local legislative process that produced the plan cannot be replicated at the ballot box.

In an opinion for the court, Justice David Schenck disagreed with the city’s legal argument.

“While there is an obvious long-run relation between a comprehensive plan and a city’s resulting zoning rules, the two are not synonymous,” Shenck wrote.

The political and legal challenges to Plano Tomorrow have been underway since the plan was passed in 2015, drawing the ire of some residents who believed it made it too easy to approve dense new apartment developments.

Jack Ternan, an attorney for the group suing the city, said in an email that his clients are pleased with the court’s decision to order the city secretary to deliver the request for the referendum to Plano City Council.

“She should present the petition without delay,” Ternan said.

A city of Plano spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment late July 22.


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