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The Commissioners Court appeals the district court's granting of the writ of mandamus. The Commissioners Court contends that the district court also erred by denying their motion.
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He submitted a plat for the subdivision, which was approved in The plat contained four lots, each approximately 4. He sold lot number 4 to Don Berger in Albin still owns lots 1, 2, and 3.
In March , Albin requested a revision to those three lots which would replat them into eleven single family lots of about one acre each. Don Berger, a landowner in the subdivision, objected to the request. Inherent in filing an amended plat, although not specifically stated in that section, is that it comply with the same requirements set forth in statute for the filing of the original plat. To hold otherwise would be to allow subdividers to circumvent the statute by doing by revision what they could not do under the requirements of the filing of the original plat.
No complaint is made in the present case that the revised plat does not meet the requirements for the filing of a plat generally. The complaint involves the separate requirements for the filing of a revised plat. The Commissioners Court heard the request at a hearing at which Berger the owner of lot 4 presented evidence in the form of oral testimony, written statements, exhibits including a petition signed by residents of the area objecting to the replat , and the minutes of two meetings of the Denison Planning and Zoning Commission which had approved the replat.
Berger also introduced letters from several individuals disputing Albin's claim that he could not sell the property in large blocks, a letter from the fire chief of Denison about the risks created by long cul-de-sacs which would be created by the replat for emergency personnel and firefighters in attempting to perform their duties, and written statements by two other individuals setting out the problems and changes in the neighborhood that they believed were inevitable if the replat was granted.
Berger, the objecting landowner, stated that he objected for the reasons stated above, and also because the changed plat, by the very nature of the proposed changes, would be unfair, because he had purchased this property because it was a large lot, surrounded by other large lots, with little traffic, in a pastoral setting. Berger argues the proposed changes would also obstruct the view from his property and would cause traffic in the area to increase substantially over what was anticipated when he bought the property.
He further states that the changes, if approved, would necessarily cause his property to decrease in value. The Commissioners Court tabled the matter for two weeks and then held a second public hearing. Albin offered no additional evidence. The Commissioners Court refused to allow the revision to be filed. The following shows the original plat, and the next page shows the proposed revised plat.
Albin then filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the district court against the county officials. On May 26, , the Commissioners Court filed a motion seeking summary judgment, attaching copies of all documents used in the proceedings before them and copies of their official minutes of the meetings. On July 14, , Albin filed his response and his own motion for summary judgment. The district court granted Albin's motion and overruled the motion of the Commissioners Court.
The Commissioners Court contends that the trial court erred by granting Albin's motion for summary judgment. It contends that it was Albin's burden to show to the court that the revision would not interfere with the established rights of the lot owner Berger and that Albin had failed to do so. The Commissioners Court further contends that evidence was presented to show that the revision would interfere with the owner's established rights. The Texas Constitution establishes the commissioners courts as the counties' principal governing body.
The powers and duties of the commissioners courts include aspects of legislative, executive, administrative, and judicial functions. Commissioners Court of Titus County v. Agan, S. Stringer, S.
The Texas Constitution vests appellate jurisdiction and general supervisory control over a county commissioners court with the district court, subject to such exceptions and under such regulations as the law may prescribe. With a few narrow exceptions, the Legislature has not prescribed procedures for the district court's exercise of this appellate jurisdiction or supervisory control. The enabling legislation empowering the district court repeats the constitution's terms.
Gov't Code Ann. Case law defines the scope of the district court's jurisdiction. A party can invoke the district court's constitutional supervisory control over a commissioners court judgment only when the commissioners court acts beyond its jurisdiction or clearly abuses the discretion conferred upon it by law. If the commissioners court acts illegally, unreasonably, or arbitrarily, a district court may so adjudge.
However, in reviewing a commissioners court judgment for abuse of discretion, the district court has no right to substitute its judgment and discretion for that of the commissioners court. The district court may order the commissioners court to exercise its discretion, but cannot tell the commissioners what decision to make. Once the commissioners court exercises its discretion, the district court may review the order for abuse of discretion.
When, as here, both sides move for summary judgment and the trial court grants one motion and denies the other, the reviewing court should review the summary judgment evidence presented by both sides and determine all questions presented. Strauss, S.
The reviewing court should render such judgment as the trial court should have rendered. Jones, S. The parties in this case have no dispute about the scope or the content of evidence that was presented to the Commissioners Court, and which was thereafter made summary judgment evidence by the parties. The Commissioners Court contends that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment for Albin because he did not provide any evidence to show that an established right of an owner in the subdivision would not be violated by a change in the plat.
It argues that the statute places the burden upon a party attempting to revise a previously approved plat to show that the revision will not interfere with the established rights of another property owner, and that Albin wholly failed to provide any evidence to that effect.
Based upon Albin's failure to prove that his proposed revision would not affect the other landowner's established rights, and the presence of proof from the landowner about the substantial and detrimental changes that would result from the revision, the Commissioners Court argues that the evidence was sufficiently in conflict that it was not required by statute to reach only one decision.
Therefore, it acted within its discretionary authority and the granting of the summary judgment was improper. It is the original plat and rights thereunder that may be altered if a revised plat is filed.
In MacDonald v. Painter, 2 the Texas Supreme Court held that the mere filing of a map which depicted lots, but had no declaration restricting the size of the lots, was not a prohibition upon redividing into smaller lots. The Supreme Court went further to say. No covenant that the owner will not sell his land except in parcels delineated upon the recorded map with reference to which certain lots have been sold is implied by the making of such map and the sell [sic] of certain lots shown thereon, and the owner's right to dispose of unsold portions of his lots singularly or in bulk or by so dividing them into smaller parcels and selling them in such parcels is complete.
Therefore, under Texas law, the only rights established for the purchasers of lots set forth on the plat were the ownership rights of the specific property which the owner was conveyed. Generally, other specific rights for a subdivision, such as what use may be made of the property and a limitation of the size of all lots and a limitation on the types of buildings, are established by restrictive covenants.
These restrictive covenants are sometimes filed along with the plat, either on a separate document or on the plat itself, or the restrictive covenants can be on the deeds conveying the property in the subdivisions. In the present case, the record does not show any restrictive covenants.
Such restrictive covenants can set out with specificity the plan of development and the rights of the purchasers in relation to all the other lots in the subdivision. In the present case, although the sizes of the lots were specifically designated as required by statute, there was no declaration restricting the size of the lots. In the case of Evans v. Pollock, 3 the Supreme Court held that there can be implied reciprocal negative easements when the purchaser has actual or constructive notice of a general plan of development and other lots in the subdivision have been sold and were impressed with restrictive covenants.
In the present case, however, no lots had been impressed with restrictive covenants. Therefore, the Pollock case is distinguishable from the present case.
In the Burns v. The recorded instruments provided with specificity the restrictive covenants applicable to the subdivision. In the present case, there were no restrictive covenants shown. However, in the present case, with no restrictive covenant, the landowner is not faced with the limitations claimed by the Commissioners Court and the purchaser of the lot. The statutory provisions requiring the commissioners court to approve plats and revisions of plats before they are filed in the records of the county clerk were not designed to dispose of complex civil cases determining ownership rights, injunctions, monetary damages, and other relief that can be sought in the district court.
The statute specifically sets up guidelines for the commissioners court to use in determining whether to allow a plat to be filed in the county clerk's records. Section The statute does not give the county commissioners the option of not filing the plat if the requirements of the statute are met.