Fate of Hays Street Bridge Lawsuit Unclear After Court Drops City’s Appeal

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The property adjacent to the Hays Street Bridge could end in a land swap agreement between developer Mitch Meyer and the City of San Antonio.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The 4th Court of Appeals granted the City's request to dismiss its appeal in a lawsuit aimed at stopping development next to the historic Hays Street Bridge.

A Texas appeals court acted Wednesday to grant the City’s motion to dismiss its own appeal in litigation over the controversial property neighboring the Hays Street Bridge

It was uncertain whether the grassroots activist group involved in the lawsuit will continue litigation. Group members were planning to meet later Wednesday to determine their next step.

The 4th Court of Appeals dismissed the City’s appeal in the lawsuit, which the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group filed in 2012 in an effort to stop development of a vacant lot next to the historic bridge and Alamo Beer Co. 

Developer Mitch Meyer had proposed building a multistory apartment complex on the disputed property. Local activists said the land was supposed to become public parkland before the City sold the property seven years ago.

The controversy over the Hays Street Bridge property had sparked tension among Eastside community members and City leaders. It even became a hot button topic in the recent City Council District 2 election, reflecting the larger debate over redevelopment of older inner-city neighborhoods.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled last March that the restoration group could sue the City. The ruling remanded the case back to the 4th Court, which could have ended up reviewing a Bexar County jury’s determination that the City failed to comply with a 2002 memorandum of understanding (MOU) whose requirements included that the property be turned into a public park.

In an attempt to calm tensions and perhaps stop litigation, the City Council voted in June to approve a land swap, with the City reacquiring the disputed land in exchange for Meyer relocating his project site to a nearby 2-acre tract. City officials have pledged to convert the property next to the Hays Street Bridge into a public park after all, with input from the neighborhood.

The City, in approving the land swap, had its attorneys ask the appeals court to dismiss an appeal that the City filed in 2014. 

The restoration group supported the City taking back the property but criticized any suggestion that the City did not violate the MOU.

Justice Beth Watkins said in the court’s opinion, “We decline to express any comment as to the merits of the parties’ alternative arguments. Instead, we grant the city’s motion and dismiss the appeal.”

After the City filed a motion to drop its appeal, the restoration group alleged the City’s request “effectively concedes its arguments on these (alternative) issues,” according to the appeals court opinion.

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