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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1971, the city of San Antonio approved an amendment to its zoning ordinance which allowed several acres of land to be developed into a commercial business development known as the Park Ten Business Park. Park Ten was within the San Antonio city limits, fronted the Interstate 10 access road and abutted Freiling Drive, a residential street also located within San Antonio’s city limits. The ordinance amendment forbid access to Freiling Drive from the commercial zones and required a nonaccess easement between the residential and business zones. The issue of access to Freiling from Park Ten came before San Antonio’s city council twice during the next two years, but both times the council left the prohibition of access in place. In 1973, the Park Ten developer purchased a tract of commercially developed land that abutted both Park Ten and Freiling Drive but was partially within the city limits of Balcones Heights. The Balcones Heights tract of land had a driveway that provided access to Freiling. Park Ten’s developer then extended the driveway into the Park Ten property and connected it to Park Ten Boulevard, an existing City of San Antonio street in the business park. In 1975, the San Antonio Planning and Zoning Commission approved a plat that showed the Balcones Heights property and depicted the driveway. The minutes from the planning and zoning commission meeting stated that the commission was aware that the egress that developed along Freiling Drive passed through the city of Balcones Heights and that “the Commission has no jurisdiction in that situation.” In 1989, the commission approved a replat depicting the driveway. In the summer of 1999, the city of San Antonio began taking steps to address traffic using Freiling to enter and leave Park Ten via the driveway. The city’s action was in response to complaints from area residents regarding increased traffic on Freiling. TPLP Office Park Properties Ltd., a property owner in the business park, filed suit for injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment seeking to keep the access open. The city filed a counterclaim alleging that the driveway and traffic accessing Freiling from the driveway constituted a nuisance and that the driveway violated city ordinances. In November 1999, the city passed a traffic control ordinance restricting the types of turns that could be made out of the driveway onto Freiling and into the driveway from Freiling. But the ordinance did not correct the problems. The suit continued. While the suit was pending, proponents and opponents of closing the access to Freiling made presentations at the June 28, 2001, city council meeting. Following the presentations, the council passed an ordinance that, inter alia, directed the city attorney to “take any and all necessary action to . . . close the street/access connection in question to vehicular traffic.” In November 2001, the trial court held a pretrial hearing for the stated purpose of determining whether the proposed action by the city in closing the driveway would be a valid exercise of the city’s police power; and whether closing the driveway would result in a material and substantial impairment of access or whether it would result merely in a circuity of travel. The trial court took evidence at the hearing, then rendered judgment declaring that the attempted closure of the Freiling Drive driveway would constitute an unreasonable exercise of the city’s police power. The trial court made findings of fact which included, among other matters, findings that the traffic entering and leaving Park Ten from Freiling Drive did not create a safety hazard to nearby residents; and did not create a nuisance or safety concern for the city. It also found that the city’s attempted closure of the driveway access would not be in furtherance of the public interest nor would it promote the safety, comfort, health, convenience or general welfare of the public or the community. The trial court concluded that the city’s actions in attempting to close the driveway were “not rationally related to any legitimate governmental/legislative goal of the City.” Attorneys’ fees were awarded to TPLP. The city appealed. The 4th Court of Appeals first noted that TPLP was not challenging the validity of any of the city’s ordinances, but was challenging the city’s contention that the driveway violated the ordinances. It then reviewed the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. Concluding that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s findings, the 4th Court affirmed the trial court. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. TPLP, the Texas Supreme Court, argued that justice requires application of the doctrine of estoppel in the case, because the city approved the driveway by approving the plat depicting it in 1975, and TPLP probably relied on the plat to confirm access to the property when it decided to purchase the property and spend over $1 million on improvements. Nonetheless, the court stated that if even if the facts of the case depicted a situation where justice might warrant application of estoppel principles, estopping a city from employing its chosen method to regulate traffic would improperly interfere with the city’s performance of its governmental functions. Courts may not second guess a governmental entity’s decision as to how it performs its governmental function of regulating traffic by imposing an estoppel theory under circumstances such as those presented by the record in the Park Ten case, the court stated. The court held that the 4th Court erred in affirming the trial court’s declaration that closure of vehicular access to Freiling via the driveway would not be a valid exercise of the city’s police power and would constitute a compensable taking, and that the city is estopped from closing the driveway. OPINION:Per curiam; Green, J., did not participate in the decision.

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