Die another Day
Heights Walmart vote delayed by City Council: Will the city pay the developer'slegal fees too?
The proposed 380 agreement between the city of Houston and Heights Walmart project developer Ainbinder that was up for a vote in today's city council meeting has been delayed.
Council members Ed Gonzalez (who has publicly refused to support the project, which is in his district) and Jolanda Jones tagged the agreement, removing it from today's agenda and delaying the vote.
The agreement, and the proposed development as a whole, have been hotly contested by surrounding residents. On the one hand, the $6 million in taxpayer money the 380 promises the developer can be seen as a means for the city to maintain some control over the project and procure improvements beyond the bare minimum.
On the other hand, opponents take issue with what they perceive as a hasty push-through. The agreement is somewhat unusual in this instance — it's usually used to assist in the completion of a project that provides some public good and could otherwise not be completed. A lawyer for opposition group Stop Heights Walmart, a division of Responsible Urban Development for Houston, points out that the agreement also promises city money to pay Ainbinder's legal fees.
Under Article II, Section D, titled "Improvement Costs" (the agreement may be accessed here), the contract states:
"The Improvements Costs shall also include all legal, engineering, and other consultant costs in connection with the design and construction of the Improvements or the negotiation, preparation and approval of this Agreement and all matters related thereto, including the purchase of and payment for the Improvements."
We'll keep you posted as the proposition develops.