The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority won a victory in an appeals court in its fight with property owners along four of the Guadalupe Valley Lakes System lakes in and around Guadalupe County.
The Fourth Court of Appeals rendered a decision in the Williams v. GBRA case, holding that the property owners lacked legal standing to sue the river authority, according to a statement GBRA released Wednesday.
The appeals court ruled that the property owners could not prove that they were harmed by GBRA’s actions, GBRA said.
“We are pleased with today’s timely and decisive decision from the Court of Appeals,” GBRA General Manager and CEO Kevin Patteson said. “The decision further demonstrates that cooperation and collaboration is the path forward for the Guadalupe Valley Lakes. The collective effort continues to yield results: Construction is underway on the Lake Dunlap dam with Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid to follow, thanks to the formation and voter confirmation of Water Control Improvement Districts.”
The court took less than three weeks to deliver its opinion and he holds little stock in it, said J. Douglas Sutter, attorney for the property owners who sued GBRA. Sutter plans to take the suit to the next level: the Texas Supreme Court.
“The Court of Appeals opinion is superficial,” Sutter said. “It does not appreciate the applicable law and sited inapplicable law. Therefore, we’ll file an application for writ of error with the state Supreme Court.”
An opinion delivered in less than three weeks shows lack of a lot of thought into the issue, the attorney said.
His clients still contend that GBRA failed to maintain the dams in the system, which led to the lakes being drained. GBRA allowing the lakes to drain resulted in GBRA taking property values from his client, Sutter said.
The 274th District Court granted GBRA’s plea to the jurisdiction with the exception of two taking claims on Aug. 20, the GBRA statement read. The Court of Appeals heard arguments June 17 and reversed the district court’s decision on the taking claims, the statement read.
Sutter vowed to continue the fight.
Other property owners along the lakes have stopped fighting and are working with the river authority.
Construction began in May on the Lake Dunlap dam in a project estimated to last about 24 months to repair the aging dam. Design work is taking place at the Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid dams.
That work is expected to be complete by November to move forward with repairs at those structures.
GBRA helped secure $40 million in bond funding at lower interest rates to help fund the three projects.