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Both Sides See Victory In Ashby High Rise Appeal

A Texas Court of Appeals ruling overturned a 2014 judgment that was going to cost developers $1.2 million. However, the Appeals ruling allows local residents the opportunity to sue if they don’t like what’s built.

For almost 10-years, a proposed 21-story residential tower just blocks from Rice University has proven controversial. Neighbors claim the proposed Ashby High Rise at 1717 Bissonnet would be a nuisance.

A 2014 judgement allowed developers to move forward with the tower, while awarding $1.2-million in damages to local residents.

Recently the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals reversed the ruling for damages. Houston College of Law professor Matthew Festa said on Houston Matters the ruling is good news for Houston developers.

"Let everybody know whether they're big developers or private homeowners, what the rules are for property development, and it will reduce the risk of uncertainty of wondering before you go ahead with your property, whether there's going to be, essentially, a neighborhood veto," Festa says.

Jean Frizzell is the attorney for the local homeowners. He says money was never the issue, and the Court of Appeals has given residents the option to sue again.

"They made clear that if the developer chose to go forward and build the Ashby High Rise in a form that would be a nuisance, that the community and the neighbors who are impacted by it are then free to sue them again for damages," said Frizzell.

Frizzell adds he's not sure if developers can build a 21-story building that neighbors would approve.

“Given the current economic climate I have no idea what the developers plan to do, and so it’s hard to actually lay out what the community would be willing to do,” he says. “But if the developers do want to put a high-rise in now, my hope is they will get back together with the community and try to work something out that livable with everyone.”

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