Updated: Jul 27, 2020
The 5th District Court of Appeals has ruled. But first...
THE ROAD SO FAR...
[cue Kansas: Carry on My Wayward Son]
In late 2015, after more than two years in the making, the Plano City Council passed the Plano Tomorrow Plan (PTP), which re-envisioned our city for the next 30 years. The council meeting at which it passed heard considerable objection from citizens. So much so that less than a month after passage, 4,300 signatures had been collected on a petition to repeal the Plano Tomorrow Plan. This was more than twice as many required under the city charter, and doesn't even include those who were opposed but were ineligible to sign the petition because they were not registered to vote, or not U.S. citizens. At primary issue is the vast number of “mixed use” (apartments and retail or office) areas allowed for under the PTP, and the increasing density of the city (Plano already has the second highest population density of any city in Texas with a population greater than 250,000).
When a referendum petition is submitted, the city secretary then presents it to the city council, which then has two choices: 1) repeal it outright, or 2) let the voters decide the matter in an election. This petition, however, was never presented to council, as the city contended that comprehensive plans are not subject to referendum. Hence a lawsuit was filed by citizens to force the matter, and has been tied up in the courts ever since.
Late last year, after the issue was referred to the appellate court, we on council determined to move beyond the division sown by the Plano Tomorrow Plan and work toward the development of a new city comprehensive plan, which we would endeavor to ensure met with the approval of the overwhelming majority of our residents. To this end, we appointed sixteen Plano residents, two by each member of council, to serve on a Comprehensive Plan Review Committee. To ensure broad support, we set the bar at a 75 percent super-majority vote requirement for passage by the committee. We also hired a consultant, and since January, the committee has been meeting to work through the issues at hand, and to develop a new comprehensive plan, dubbed the Plano United 2050 Plan, with the goal of completing it before year end.
EARLIER THIS WEEK...
At long last, the 5th District Court of Appeals made its long-awaited ruling on the lawsuit, unambiguously addressing all points of contention, and ruling that the city secretary must present the petition to council, and that the plaintiff’s (citizens’) court fees must be paid. Read the decision here.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
The Plano City Council is posted to discuss this in Executive Session on Monday, July 27th. If the appellate court decision is not appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, then the petition will ultimately be presented to the city council, most likely in August. It may not be possible for this to happen on Monday, since this isn’t on the agenda for the Monday Regular Meeting, and would hence likely violate the Texas Open Meetings Act.
Once the petition is presented, per the Plano City Charter, council has the same two options mentioned previously:
Repeal the Plano Tomorrow Plan then and there, reverting to the prior plan
Place in on the ballot, presumably in the November election
With the Plano United 2050 Plan in development, I’ll let you decide what makes the most sense.