Austin Business Litigation Case Involves Successful Challenge to City
Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) November 7, 2011 - Restaurant disputes are almost never as lengthy as the one South Congress Café has been embroiled in with the City of Austin for more than six years. At the heart of the lawsuit are an outdoor deck and the neighborhood’s lack of parking. The café built the deck on the only outdoor space that was marked for on-site parking for restaurant patrons. They also constructed the deck without the mandatory permits.
The restaurant and its owners, Trudy’s Texas Star Inc., do not dispute this. But they do say they tried to work with the city to obtain approvals and permits retroactively. In court, Trudy’s cited previous times when other business owners have done this retroactively without issue. Trudy’s submitted a new site plan to the city based on the deck, and other improvements such as a bar, landscaping, fencing, and a walk-in cooler that was built as part of the expansion. But the plan apparently did not incorporate 23 parking spaces with one handicap space that was part of the original plan.
“Lengthy disputes like this one can cost restaurants and other businesses an incredible amount of lost revenue,” said Austin business litigation attorney Gregory D. Jordan. “Anything to deal with construction, city codes and permits, and right of way concerns should usually be addressed proactively when possible to minimize disputes. Nevertheless, when that does not happen, the City doesn’t have the right to just run over a business owner. Sometimes you can fight City Hall.”
The deck, which extends into the sidewalk area, has remained unused since September of 2005 because of the lawsuit. The city had originally approved the plan with the improvements, but then reversed its decision due to public opposition, Trudy claims.
This could now change because of a recent District Civil Court ruling that said Austin did not work with the café owners at 1600 South Congress Avenue to bring it into compliance with city code development regulations. District Judge Orlinda Naranjo held that Austin has until June 2012 to work with the restaurant on bringing the matter into compliance. Judge Naranjo also found that the City needed to pay the café over $350,000 in legal fees.
Permitting, zoning, and land use disputes require expert legal counsel to resolve. Politics and public perception can play a big role in some outcomes, but ultimately the complexities often boil down to city departments working with area residents and businesses to make their processes clear and actionable within a reasonable time.
The Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan counsels restaurant owners, construction companies, developers, and businesses in business litigation matters. To learn more about the Austin business attorney and Austin business litigation lawyer Gregory D. Jordan, please go to www.theaustintriallawyer.com or call (512) 419-0684.
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