BURNET — With a stern admonishment to the Texas attorney general’s office, state District Judge Evan Stubbs ruled Wednesday for the newly incorporated city of Double Horn in a lawsuit that challenged the validity of the city’s status.
“Your motion for summary judgment, discovery and all of those things will ultimately cause these defendants a huge expense at the cost of taxpayer dollars,” Stubbs said to Ken Richardson, who was representing Paxton’s office. “So you’re asking me to authorize a lawsuit so you can bury these people in pleadings and paperwork?”
Stubbs said the city’s response appears to show that Double Horn is “a proper city” and the state’s lawsuit constitutes “an abuse of (its) office” to pursue a lawsuit that will ultimately show the city was properly incorporated.
The city of Double Horn — in the Spicewood area of Burnet County off Texas 71 — incorporated in December, with residents electing its first mayor and City Council last month. The 2-square-mile city includes a project site permitted in January to be developed as a rock crushing operation, or quarry, as well as the subdivision’s residential homes.
The city has said that one of the reasons it incorporated was to exert some level of restraint over the quarry’s operations.
The state’s lawsuit filed last month alleged Double Horn did not meet two of the state’s requirements to incorporate as a Type B general-law municipality.
Since the community comprises only homes, a community pool and an outdoor pavilion — without any stores, churches, schools, gas stations or a public building — Double Horn was merely a subdivision and didn’t function as a village or town before incorporating, as state law requires, according to the pleading. The state also argued that the quarry property wasn’t a part of the Double Horn community since its site is rural and the subdivision consists primarily of home sites and two businesses.
Richardson argued Wednesday that the court should only rule on the jurisdiction of the lawsuit and not consider whether the city was properly incorporated.
Double Horn legal consultant Andy Messer countered that the city’s actions to hold a legal election was integral to the hearing.
In his ruling, Stubbs said many other cities in similar situations as Double Horn have incorporated without interference from the attorney general’s office. However, he said, those cases did not involve a rock crushing plant, suggesting “this multimillion-dollar company out of New York has been pounding on the attorney general’s door to file this” lawsuit.
Spicewood Crushed Stone owns the quarry site and is a subsidiary of Dalrymple Construction Co. of Pine City, N.Y.
Finding that the attorney general’s office did not have a probability of winning the lawsuit, Stubbs denied the state’s request. “Tax dollars shouldn’t be used to pave the way for some multimillion-dollar company out of New York to come and make a bundle of money,” Stubbs said.
Double Horn Mayor Cathy Sereno said she was pleased with the decision.
“It was what we absolutely hoped for and believed should happen,” she said.