Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 15, 2018

TX Appeals Court Remands Conflicts of Interest Allegation Where Outcome May Have Been Different Had Councilmember Recused Since She Was a Realtor With an Interest in the Subject Property

This post was authored by Touro Law student Thomas Brown ’20

Plaintiff William Rancher Estates owned property Seneca West and wished to sell it and change its zoning designation through the city of Leon Valley.  Plaintiffs were contacted by Irene Baldridge, a city councilwoman and real estate broker, who said she had a client interested in purchasing the property and that, if plaintiffs didn’t accept her client’s offer, she would use her government influence to block plaintiff’s zoning request. Plaintiffs further alleged that Baldridge et al. illegally trespassed onto the property to dig a trench that “altered the natural flow of water and resulted in continuous and recurring flooding.”  They alleged that defendants violated the Open Meetings Act by altering transcripts and recordings of council deliberations and that Baldridge should have recused herself from the process.  There was a meeting in December 2010 and a vote in March 2011 denying plaintiff’s zoning request. In deciding what claims the trial court has jurisdiction over, the Court of Appeals remanded the conflict of interest claim to the trial court for further factual determinations.  Plaintiffs issued evidence, including statements from other council members, demonstrating that if Irene Baldridge had recused herself the outcome may have in fact been different.

City of Leon v Rancher Estates Joint Venture, 2015 WL 2405475 (TX App. 5/20/2015)


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