Earlier this week Justice Amanda Reichek of the Fifth District Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for writ mandamus filed by the city of Mesquite regarding Spradley Farms’ temporary restraining order, which was filed in February.
In court documents filed on April 27, Justice Reichek stated, “To the extent the petition seeks relief regarding relators’ (City of Mesquite and Mayor Bruce Archer) jurisdiction and venue challenges, relators have not shown their entitlement to mandamus relief. For mandamus to lie, a relator must show both that the trial court has clearly abused its discretion and that relators has no adequate appellate remedy.
Based on the record before us, we conclude that the trial has not yet ruled on relators’ plea to jurisdiction or motion to transfer venue. Accordingly, we deny this portion of relators’ petition for writ mandamus as premature.”
“It’s kind of puzzling when they filed it because it’s pretty basic (that) you don’t file to appeal a judge’s ruling until he’s ruled on those matters, and the court in Kaufman (County) hadn’t done that and they filed this appeal anyway,” said Scott Gray, attorney for the Spradley Farms developer.
Gray stated that since the court dismissed the city’s petition the case will proceed as planned, with mediation scheduled for May 11. If this case is not settled in mediation it’ll continue to be litigated.
In regards to the court of appeals' decision, the city of Mesquite stated, “We are pleased the court of appeals granted the city’s emergency motion in February and stayed the trial court’s temporary restraining order, which was the primary relief the city requested. Now that the trial court’s temporary restraining order expired, the court of appeals’ decision to return the case back to the trial court was not unexpected. We look forward to presenting the city’s positions to the trial court and are confident in its defense of the case.”
In February, Kaufman County Judge Bobby Rich granted Spradley Farms a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the city of Mesquite and ordered the city to cease all activities that would stop the proposed luxury residential project.
In November 2019 the Mesquite City Council approved an incentives package, including a tax increment reinvestment zone, and a development agreement for the proposed Spradley Farms luxury residential development, a 622-acre project on Interstate 20 near FM740. With council approval last fall, the city then entered into a contract with the Nehemiah Company, the Spradley Farms developers.
In January, the newly elected council voted to break the November 2019 agreement with Spradley Farms over the financing mechanism proposed by the developer. Prior to that January meeting, Archer wrote on Facebook that the Spradley Farms development would require the developer to be paid approximately $53 million over the next 35 years for the interest they would pay for their development loan.
The Nehemiah Company, however, said the project would bring hundreds of millions in taxable value back to the city.
“We have valid claims based on them backing out on the deal that they originally agreed to. The law is pretty clear that you can’t do that and Mesquite, for whatever reason, has chosen that route,” Gray said. “This is a pattern we’ve seen with the city. We were the law firm that fought the annexation (of land in Kaufman County), and we told them then what they’ve done is illegal and they just refuse to acknowledge that. And here we are again, suing the city for not doing what they’re supposed to and they’re wasting taxpayers’ money fighting this.”