Farmers Branch delays vote on rental ban appeal




Posted on August 6, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 6 at 10:36 PM

Should Farmers Branch appeal the town's rental ban ruling?

FARMERS BRANCH — After hearing from Farmers Branch residents on both sides of the issue, Town Council members decided not to take a vote Tuesday on whether they should appeal a federal court ruling on the city's rental ban to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An attorney for the town said it would likely cost Farmers Branch between $2 million and $3 million in attorney fees to the other side if they choose not to appeal.

The town has already spent more than $6 million on the court battles.

Three federal courts have struck down the city's controversial ban on apartment renters who are not in the country legally. The most recent ruling came on July 23, when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the ban is unconstitutional because it conflicts with federal immigration laws.

Several supporters of the ban asked Council members to appeal those rulings to the Supreme Court.

"It would be embarrassing for us to fold the tent," said Tom Bohmier, a Farmers Branch resident.

The 2008 ordinance would deny illegal immigrants the opportunity to rent. Landlords who rented to them would be fined or lose renter's licenses.

Several landlords and renters sued the town, claiming the ordinance overstepped federal authority.

Opponents of an appeal to the high court told the Council the town has spent too much money already.

"The tail has wagged the dog long enough," said Elizabeth Villafranca, who owns a Farmers Branch restaurant. "It's time to cut our losses."

The town has until October 21 to file an appeal with the Supreme Court. Mayor Bill Glancy told the crowd who expected a vote that they will take up the appeal again in the near future.