Court Of Appeals Rules In Favor Of TIRZ In Flooding Lawsuit
A tax increment reinvestment zone didn't cause flooding in Memorial, and control over flood control projects in the area will remain solely in the hands of the city of Houston, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled Tuesday.
The court affirmed a lower court's dismissal of Residents Against Flooding's claims that TIRZ 17's street and drainage projects caused homes in Memorial City to flood, the mayor's office said in a statement.
The claims aren't Hurricane Harvey-related: Residents Against Flooding filed the federal lawsuit against the city of Houston and the Memorial City Development Authority in May 2016 after the neighborhood flooded twice in less than a year. The suit alleged that since the inception of TIRZ 17 in 1999, the group had systematically implemented drainage infrastructure projects that conveyed stormwater out of commercial areas and into the surrounding neighborhoods. It also alleged TIRZ 17 has favored private commercial development over neighborhoods by postponing projects to help residents, often shifting focus to nonessential projects benefiting commercial interests.
RAF had argued the flooding constituted an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment, and the city and TIRZ 17 had violated constitutional due process. The court ruled that the infrastructure and drainage projects in the TIRZ did not involve residents' properties and that their claimed right to use their homes free from flooding is “too broad and unsupported by case law.”
A developer in TIRZ 17 responded to the initial 2016 lawsuit by pointing the finger back at residents, telling Bisnow that homes have gotten larger and increased impervious cover over the years without increasing drainage, while commercial projects have either remained of similar scope in impervious cover or have improved infrastructure.
RAF wanted to be granted preferential treatment or control over assigning and implementing flood control projects in and near the neighborhood, the mayor's office said.
“Hurricane Harvey caused a lot of devastation throughout Houston, and I am sympathetic to people whose homes were damaged by the flooding," Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. "Today, I am pleased the Court has not impeded the City’s ability to quickly and comprehensively address flooding issues. We will continue building for the future to be stronger and more resilient."