Former Councilman Suggests West U Council Violated Texas Law

February 27, 2012

A former West U City Councilman is questioning whether or not the open meetings act was violated when the city council decided not to move forward with rezoning the town center retail district.

During tonight’s council meeting, Steven Segal read part of an InstantNewsWestU article that said that the council decided not to pursue the project during a closed executive session on Feb. 13.

Council discussed the town center during an evaluation of the city manager prior to their regular council meeting.

Segal read aloud a comment he made on the article as well as several other comments that were posted on InstantNewsWestU that questioned discussing the issue behind closed doors.

“Was the decision by council to cease all discussion of the town center re-zoning really made during ‘a closed executive session’ limited to evaluation of the city manager? What about the open meetings act? Did council conclude that no worthwhile changes to our zoning rules could be made or even discussed? I hope someone will explain or clarify the information provided in this article and this decision-making process,” he said.

Segal told the council that he was concerned about an item on tonight’s agenda to present the “official city position” on the comprehensive commercial rezoning and town center rezoning report, when the council had not discussed their position in a public meeting.

He suggested that the council pull the item from the agenda and place a town center discussion item on a future agenda so the council could publically state their position and be transparent.

Mayor Bob Fry suggested that Segal talk with City Attorney Alan Petrov after the council meeting so he would be more comfortable with the way the matter was handled, but Segal said he had a prior commitment.

At the end of the council meeting Fry presented the council’s official position on the town center.

“This council has listened to citizen input and will not continue with the town center rezoning or a comprehensive rewrite of commercial zoning requirements. With this statement we are formally removing them from our list of council goals and we will not pursue them further,” Fry said. “While we thought a lack of action by council would send the appropriate message some would prefer a formal statement. This is that statement.”

Fry told InstantNewsWestU after the meeting that they didn’t violate the open meetings act and said he is comfortable with how the matter was handled.

“We are very well aware of what the open meetings act is and we wouldn’t make any decisions without consulting the city attorney,” he said. “I think we did the right thing.”

Petrov told the news organization that the town center discussion related to Ross’ evaluation because they were giving him direction in his job responsibilities.

While Petrov was not present during the city manager’s evaluation, he said that the council can discuss many things in terms of his employment without violating the open meetings act.

Council is expected to discuss their goals and priorities during a workshop on March 12.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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