Houston High Rise Ruling a Win-Lose
Erin Mulvaney reports on the much-anticipated ruling by state District Judge Randy Wilson with regard to the proposed Ashby high rise in Houston. The developer can move forward with the tower, denying the permanent injunction requested by the residents, but the ruling also granted $1.2 million to the 20 residents who filed suit against the developer, acknowledging that the development would constitute a nuisance.
The ruling has a tough line to walk, given the city's laissez-faire approach to land use regulation. Judge Wilson provided the following commentary on the request for an injunction by the residents: "If an injunction is granted, there is no question but that it will have a chilling effect on other developments in Houston," and "[as] Houston becomes more and more urbanized and denser, perhaps Houston should reconsider whether zoning is appropriate for this City…That is not for this Court to decide."
The Ashby controversy has been reflected in other development battles around the city in recent years: "The Ashby fight, raging since 2007, has influenced city policy and provided a template for similar battles in other well-off neighborhoods. Residents in neighborhoods from the Museum District to River Oaks and the Heights have since protested big development projects."