A petition submitted on 1/11/16 to rescind Sugar Land's Development Code has been declared invalid because state law does not allow the use of initiative or referendum to amend zoning regulations.
The referendum petition process allows citizens to submit a petition to repeal all or part of an existing ordinance, and, if City Council fails to do so, hold an election to approve or reject the ordinance.
The referendum petition submitted on Jan. 11 requested the City to repeal Ordinance No. 2014, which contains Sugar Land's zoning and development regulations.
Sugar Land's Development Code provides the basis for the review of projects submitted by a property owner wanting to alter or develop property within the City. Components of the Development Code include zoning, sign, subdivision, building, airport zoning, and flood damage reduction regulations.
A legal analysis by one of the state's leading authorities on land-use law was recently performed to determine the impacts of the referendum petition submitted on Jan. 11. Robert F. Brown, of Brown & Hofmeister, L.L.P., a recognized expert in land use and zoning laws, confirmed City Attorney Meredith Riede's opinion that the referendum petition was worded in a way that attempted to repeal Ordinance No. 2014 in its entirety and would not resurrect a prior version of Sugar Land's development code - this would result in the elimination of Sugar Land's zoning and development regulations.
According to Riede and Brown, state law and City Charter prohibits the use of referendum or a charter election to repeal Ordinance No. 2014 in its entirety.
"Petitioners have chosen a legal path that is not available under state law," said City Manager Allen Bogard. "City Council can't call an election even if they wanted to. They have to do what the law requires."