Palmview plans to appeal judge’s decision on city sewer project

Palmview plans to appeal a temporary injunction that blocked the city from building a sewer system without approval from the Agua Special Utility District.

State District Judge Letty Lopez halted the project on May 22, admonishing Palmview for starting construction without permission from the utility district.

City of Palmview Logo“If we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down fighting for the people,” said City Councilman Joel Garcia.

With funding from the Texas Water Development board, the utility district is building a sewer system to serve Palmview.

The city, though, wanted to spur development on the Expressway 83 frontage road between La Homa Road and Breyfogle Road — and feared the utility district wasn’t moving fast enough.

Restaurants and national retailers want to build on the frontage road, but the lack of sewer service is a dealbreaker.

“They’re going to go down the street. Outside of Palmview,” Garcia said. “And we can’t afford that.”

Palmview couldn’t wait for the utility district to provide sewer service, Garcia said. The city decided to spend $580,000 to build a separate sewer system to serve the frontage road.

“We want to deliver what we promised,” Garcia said, adding that Palmview considered the sewer project an investment that would create jobs and generate new tax revenue. “But we can’t do any of that without the sewer.”
Palmview started building the sewer system without
permission from the utility district.

“I think that’s what really set the judge off,” said City Attorney Gus Acevedo. “We were getting ahead with ourselves without following Agua SUD’s procedures.”

Acevedo acknowledged that Palmview started construction without a permit, but added that he didn’t think the city broke any laws.

“We did not violate any law. What we didn’t do was comply with Agua SUD’s procedures for getting a permit,” Acevedo said. “Which is very different. That is not a law.”

When the utility district warned the city not to proceed without a permit, Palmview responded with a lawsuit.

The utility district hired McAllen-based law firm Roerig, Oliveira and Fisher, which crushed Acevedo in court.

“I think a fit analogy here, your honor, is if we say ‘You know what, we want to put a street in the city of Palmview. And we’re just going to go build it,’” said attorney David G. Oliveira, who represents the utility district. “And when it’s done, we’ll say ‘Hey, here’s the street. If you don’t want it, do whatever you want with it.’”

Acevedo argued the city sewer project wouldn’t harm the utility district.

The city would pay for everything, Acevedo said, adding that Palmview would also pay to decommission any part of the sewer infrastructure deemed unnecessary by the utility district.

The judge didn’t buy it.

“You know what the irreparable harm is? If you don’t follow the law, there’s lawlessness,” said Lopez, the state district judge. “That’s the irreparable harm. That cities can then do whatever they want: And not follow procedures. Not follow laws.”

The City Council plans to hire an attorney to handle the appeal during the regularly scheduled meeting on June 5.

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