STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
Double Horn Mayor Cathy Sereno, as well as many Double Horn residents who filled the 424th District Courtroom on April 3, expressed relief and happiness with Judge Evan Stubbs’s ruling.
Stubbs denied the state of Texas’s petition to invalidate Double Horn’s recent incorporation.
“We believe this is the proper outcome, but we weren’t sure whether or not to expect it,” Sereno said after the hearing.
Stubbs, on multiple occasions during the hearing, questioned the motives of the Texas Attorney General’s Office in pursuing a case against the new city.
“Why does the (attorney general) care? Because the AG didn’t seem to care when Meadowlakes incorporated. The AG didn’t seem to care when a bunch of these other towns incorporated. So why does the AG seem to care here?” Stubbs asked.
The state’s response, from Special Counsel David Hacker, was that the Attorney General’s Office doesn’t proactively look at when cities incorporate and if they follow proper procedures. The Attorney General’s Office, Hacker said, has to be first notified of a potential violation.
Attorney Andy Messer, representing Double Horn, said that, in his more than 30 years’ experience representing municipalities, he’s never seen a case like this before.
Sereno, after the hearing, said other mayors have contacted her and commented on how unusual the case is.
Stubbs said the lawsuit came from one of two places.
“Either a group of these people that have voted against incorporation have been pounding on your door to get you to file this, which is one option,” Stubbs said. “Or, the second is that this multimillion-dollar company out of New York has been pounding on your door to get you to file this. And I really hope it’s the first because if it’s the latter, it really seems like you’re using taxpayer dollars to seek a monetary benefit for some New York corporation at the expense of all these people in this room, and, realistically, you’re using my tax dollars for that.”
Stubbs, in denying the lawsuit, said using state taxpayer money for the benefit of an out-of-state company is “just wrong.” Last summer, Double Horn area residents learned that Spicewood Crushed Stone LLC, which is owned by New York-based Dalrymple Gravel and Contracting Co., was planning to put a quarry and rock crusher plant on approximately 281 acres adjacent to the community.
“At this point, I’m not going to be complicit with that if that is, in fact, what is happening,” Stubbs said. “I’m going to find that there’s not a probability of you winning this lawsuit or having a lawsuit. I’m going to deny your petition for leave, and I guess the Third Court of Appeals — if you want to continue to spend tax dollars on it — the Third Court of Appeals can review that. And they may say I’m wrong, but from my view of it, it looks like the right thing to do.”
Until the state makes a decision on whether or not to appeal, the city of Double Horn will continue with normal business.
“Our next meeting is April 11. We’ll continue to pursue normal activities of a city and wait to see what happens,” Sereno said. “I have to talk to (the Texas Department of Transportation) about the speed study we want. That’s very important to me because the dangers on (Texas) 71 are apparent.”
The city’s full response to the lawsuit, filed April 2 in district court, is posted on the city’s website.