Harker Heights officials and the owner of 19 houses on Lynn Drive slated for demolition will face off in court Feb. 1 to determine if the houses will be temporarily saved or demolished.
On Jan. 10, David Buttross of Austin filed an application in the 146th District Court in Belton for a temporary restraining order and injunction against the City of Harker Heights to stop the demolition.
“We finally got a (temporary restraining order) hearing,” Buttross said on Jan. 14. That hearing is set for Feb. 1.
Buttross and Harker Heights have been at odds since the city first inspected the properties in March 2012 and deemed them health and safety hazards. In December, the Harker Heights City Council approved a contract for demolition of the houses, leading Buttross to submit a detailed renovation plan for the city to review.
Earlier this month, the Harker Heights Planning and Development Department rejected the plan and ordered the demolition company to move forward.
Buttross responded by filing an asbestos complaint against Harker Heights with the Texas State Department of Health Services, which required the city to perform an asbestos survey on the houses set for demolition.
Buttross claims he has “jumped through hoops” to renovate the houses as required by the city. He believes the city is prejudiced against minorities and people with low-incomes and that is the true reason the houses are being demolished.
“If they don’t want poor people or minorities to live in Harker Heights, just tell me,” Buttross said.
Buttross maintains that he made an earnest effort to repair the houses in the timeframe given by the city. However, the city said he did not meet the deadlines they had given him to repair the houses and bring them up to code.
The initial timeframe given Buttross in March was for two units to be repaired every two months over the course of an 18-month period, court documents stated. In August, no repair work had been completed, so Buttross was given 60-90 days to repair all the units, according to the city.
Buttross said the city did not allow him to pull permits for some of the renovation work he attempted on Lynn Drive and that kept him from completing the work within the timeframe.
“Every time we try to pull a permit, they say no,” he said. “They keep saying they don’t like the plan.”
Heights Planning and Development Director Fred Morris said that he and City Manager Steve Carpenter were advised by the city attorney not to comment on the restraining order and injunction application.