Port Neches Zoning Board to appoint attorney in fight with City

Published 6:37 pm Monday, November 23, 2015

PORT NECHES — Port Neches’ Zoning Board of Adjustment is looking to hire an attorney to help in a legal battle with the city.

The zoning board learned the mayor and city council filed a writ of certiorari on Nov. 19 regarding the zoning board’s approval of three variances related to the construction of an apartment complex.

The legal document states “the board were illegal in that each variance exceeds the limits placed on the construction of multifamily housing units” by city code.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The zoning board will hold a special meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, 1005 Merriman St. where they will discuss authorizing the approval of appointment of legal counsel to represent them.

Corey Belanger, president of the zoning board, said they learned of the legal action by the city last week but could not discuss the issue.

“We cannot discuss the issue because it is a legal matter,” Belanger said.

The writ was filed in Jefferson County Court At Law No. 1.

The plaintiffs — city council and the mayor — are asking a judge to reverse the board’s decision.

Jeff Ahktar of Amron Housing Group, who proposed the apartment project, will also be notified of the writ.

Ahktar was granted several variances on Nov. 9 for the project for the property located at 3031 Eighth Street. The variances included going above the two-story height requirement, place more than 12 attached dwelling units under one roof and go beyond the acreage density.

Ahktar currently owns The Palms Apartments and has constructed several homes in the city.

The proposed apartment complex will comes with an $8 million price tag.

According to minutes from a previous zoning board meeting Board Member Sam Loyacano asked Ahktar if the apartments would be subsidized/low income to which he stated it “would be an upscale gated community with a fitness center and walking trail. Pricing for the apartments would be between $900 and $1,100.

Notices were mailed to five property owners within 200-feet of the planned project — of the five, one turned in a letter of opposition.

Port Neches City Council held a special meeting that included an executive session on Nov. 16 in which they authorized the city attorney to file a writ of certiorari for jurisdictional review in hopes of an appeal of the decision.

According to Texas local government code, a board of adjustment may authorize in specific cases a variance from the terms of a zoning ordinance if the variance is not contrary to the public interest.

E-mail: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews