April 18, 2008
Ashby highrise lawsuit coming?

That's what Houston Politics reports will eventually happen.

James Reeder, a co-chairman of the neighborhood group fighting the proposed tower, says it's likely that the developers will make enough changes in their project to secure the permits they need. Since the resulting project probably won't be acceptable to the neighborhood, Reeder says, the next step would be litigation.

His comments came during a panel discussion Monday night sponsored by the Baker Institute Student Forum.


Reeder, a partner at the Vinson & Elkins law firm who lives near the proposed high-rise, said the only regulatory leverage the city has over the project is to limit its impact on traffic congestion. If the developers build fewer apartments or take other steps to sufficiently reduce the number of daily trips into and out of the building, the city will have to approve it, he said.

But the story won't end there, Reeder said, pledging that neighborhood leaders would turn to the courts, if necessary, and fight the project "to our last breath."

And I think they'll lose, and spend a lot of money in the process. As long as it's just their money, I don't care. I certainly understand why they feel so passionately about this. My concern is if the city is involved in any such lawsuit. I'd hope they'd take a hard look at their odds of winning, and of what they'd actually gain from a public policy perspective by fighting this battle to the bitter end as opposed to punting and taking a more holistic approach going forward.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 18, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston

Like many lawsuits, I'm not sure that their endgame is to get a court verdict in their favour, but instead to file motion after motion and get a steady stream of injunctions to prevent the project from going forward for as long as possible. Their leverage will be, we'll stop getting court injunctions if you modify the project to more of our liking so you won't be sitting on a piece of property that you're paying taxes on but not getting to develop.

Also, if Mr. Reeder is a partner at V&E, my guess is that the most significant cost to their lawsuits will be removed or significantly reduced, that is, attorney fees. I'm guessing the developer may have an in-house attorney to co-ordinate litigation, but that they'll still have to use outside counsel.

I guess we shall see....

Posted by: Will B. on April 18, 2008 8:56 AM

Just wondering who will the residents take to court, the developers, the city, or both?

Posted by: Gonzalo Camacho on April 18, 2008 4:56 PM
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