A state district court in Austin could rule next week whether the city of El Paso is entitled to proceed with its ballpark plans -- including tearing down City Hall, which opponents are trying to save.
Attorneys for the city -- and some of the opponents -- will be in Travis County on Monday for a hearing on the city's petition for an expedited declaratory judgment on the matter. The city is asking the court to rule that the bonds for the ballpark and its associated contracts are "lawful, valid and enforceable."
The state Attorney General's Office, whose Finance Division approves all bonds issued by Texas cities, is named a defendant in the suit.
If the court rules in the city's favor, it would essentially put an end
to the lawsuits, complaints and petitions that have sought to stop the demolition of City Hall to accommodate the ballpark.
If the city does not prevail, the court will set an expedited schedule to hear any remaining issues according to the accelerated time frame required by Chapter 1205 of the Texas Government Code, which governs bond validation lawsuits, city officials said in a statement Thursday.
Also on Thursday, Judge Tim Sulak of the Travis County District Court granted the city's motion to consolidate two lawsuits pending in El Paso into the bond validation lawsuit, city officials said.
It includes consolidating a suit pending in the 41st District Court in El Paso filed by Jesus Ochoa Jr. and another in County
Court-at-Law No. 5, also in El Paso, filed by Carl Starr and Salvador Gomez.
Another suit by Ochoa was not included in the consolidation because that case, in County Court-at-Law No. 6, does not seek an injunction against the city.
In a response to the city's bond validation suit, Starr and Gomez are set to file paperwork in Austin today stating their opposition, Starr said. The two argue that they face "irreparable harm because the city plans to evade review and the will of the voters and election process by imploding City Hall building in April 2013," according to the court documents they plan to file.
They further state they fear that the city will not set a timely election date and continue its plans to demolish City Hall.
In the lawsuit, attorneys for the city argue that state law, through the election held Nov. 6 that authorized the ballpark as a venue project and established a hotel tax increase to help fund it, supersedes the El Paso City Charter, which allows residents the right to an initiative.
They also argue that the City Charter does not include any right of entitlement to delay any legally authorized action pending the schedule for a potential election on a ballot measure.
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