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Texas Appellate Court Upholds City of Orange Bank Purchase Decision on Appeal

PRESS RELEASE — Today, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Ninth District of Texas at Beaumont upheld a March 7, 2016 ruling by Orange County District Court Judge Buddy Hahn that the Orange City Council’s approval of a resolution in January 2016 instructing the City Manager to purchase the First Financial Building for City Hall was authorized.

“The decision is, of course, disappointing because we believe the City Charter is clear that the City Council cannot authorize a civic building, including moving City Hall, in ways that conflict with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan,” said David W. Starnes, attorney for Plaintiffs Leslie Barras and Historic Orange Preservation Empowerment. Mr. Starnes stated that he would consult with his clients on whether or not to bring a further appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

Plaintiff Leslie Barras added that “regardless of the court decision, the City Manager admitted in the court hearing in March 2016 that it is feasible and less costly to remodel and modernize the current City Hall.” “The City Manager and Mayor both testified that the public was never given a chance to comment on the modernizing option since a public hearing was never held. All citizens of Orange should be concerned about the failure of unelected city staff and elected officials to promote openness and transparency in important decisions, like this one.” Ms. Barras indicated that she and Historic Orange Preservation Empowerment would continue to monitor City actions and try to hold officials accountable for their decisions.