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Appeals court sides with Plano citizens over Comprehensive Plan petition

The five-year legal battle over Plano's Comprehensive City Plan takes another turn. The plan is a guideline for what the city will look like in the future.
Credit: WFAA
City of Plano

PLANO, Texas — The fight over Plano’s Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan continued Wednesday when the 5th Court of Appeals sided with a citizen group’s call to have the plan vetted by voters.

Wednesday's ruling by Justice David Schenck reverses a previous decision in favor of the City of Plano and gives city secretary Lisa Henderson 14 days to present the referendum petition to the Plano City Council.

The comprehensive plan is a guideline over the next 30 years for what to do with the five percent of undeveloped land that remains in the city and for any redevelopment.

The referendum petition, which would allow citizens to vote on the comprehensive plan, was first presented to the city secretary by the group in November 2015. 

Back in November 2015, citizens first presented a referendum petition to the Plano City Council against the city's comprehensive plan. When the signatures obtained by a citizen's group were not formally submitted to the council, a lawsuit against the city was filed the following year in 2016. 

RELATED: Judge sides with city over Plano Tomorrow comprehensive plan

A citizen's group argued petitions gathered against that plan should be turned into the council and later for a public vote. The group contends the plan invites high-density housing which, they say, would change the suburban character of Plano.

Wednesday's decision from the Court of Appeals in the 5th District of Texas requires the city secretary to formally present the referendum petition to the city council.

The city has maintained from the beginning that zoning issues can't go up for public vote. The city also argues the Plano Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan "is not etched in stone" and can be changed at any time utilizing a formal zoning process.

Jack Ternan, of Ternan Law Firm, represents the five Plano residents. He said that the comprehensive plan is a perfect plan for a referendum vote.

RELATED: Plano City Council delays vote to repeal 'Plano Tomorrow' city plan

Ternan said Wednesday's court ruling would require the city secretary to present the petition to the city. He said the city would have the option to repeal the plan as a council, or put it up for a referendum vote for the citizens to decide.

"We are pleased that the Dallas Court of Appeals has, for the second time, told the City Secretary to follow the law and do her job. She should present the petition without delay," Ternan said. 

WFAA has reached out to the city of Plano for comment late Wednesday. The city's response will be published once it is received. 

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