Cities throughout Texas are slowing down the process of knocking down dangerous structures because of fears that angry owners might come back to bite them — even after their buildings have been demolished. By a 5-4 vote, the Texas Supreme Court last month struck a blow for the property rights of rotting, undead buildings throughout the state, giving their owners the right to sue in court for compensation even if a hearing before a city administrative board has already declared a condemned structure a hazard to public safety. If it isn’t overturned in a rehearing, the decision will likely force Texas cities to pick their demolition battles more carefully, and possibly get courts involved in what has traditionally been something handled by city departments.
Already, demolition of Bellaire’s lone remaining officially dilapidated building — on Park Ct. near Newcastle — has been put on hold. In Idylwood, neighbors report the scheduled evisceration of 4 long-vacant apartment buildings at 6634 Sylvan Rd. near the site of the planned Walmart on Wayside Dr. appears to have ground to a halt. (One of the structures is pictured above, sporting its new skeletal look.) A spokesperson from the Mayor’s office says that property is now tied up in litigation. Houston assistant city attorney Tom Allen tells the Bellaire Examiner‘s Ken Fountain there’s no local moratorium on demo orders for dilapidated buildings, but each case will have to be studied more carefully to avoid after-the-fact lawsuits.
- The hazard next door: Texas ruling restricts cities from eliminating blighted structures [Bellaire Examiner]
- Ruling may slow city’s wrecking ball fighting blight [Houston Chronicle]
- Fine, Go Ahead: Apartments Next to Idylwood Walmart Site Get Demo Orders [Swamplot]
Photo: Swamplot inbox