LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A Lubbock judge delays a decision in an ongoing controversy over the Lubbock Animal Shelter. Whether or not he'll let a lawsuit over the shelter's location continue has now been put off until July.
The plaintiffs, who say that an animal shelter should not be in a city park, are calling Tuesday's decision a small victory. The decision has not stopped the city from moving forward with construction plans for a shelter. About two to three acres of Mackenzie Park will be used for the new shelter.
The surveying of the property should be complete next week, but the eight people fighting this project in court say they are still hopeful the shelter will end up somewhere else besides Mackenzie Park. "The judge pointed out a lot more work needed to be done before he could make a decision," said Attorney Bill de Haas who represents the eight people upset with the city's decision to build the shelter at Mackenzie Park.
De Haas's clients say they are pleased with the 30 day extension granted by Judge Reyes and see Tuesday's hearing as a small victory. "I think people have spoken loud and clear and getting much deserved justice. We didn't get heard in other processes and proper procedure was not followed and that's a big issue," says Nilda Gonzalez, a plaintiff suing the city.
According to de Haas, that procedure falls under the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code and says that the public must be allowed to weigh in before a park can be used for something other than park activity. "Until they have required notices hearings and findings, the money is being spent incorrectly, illegally," he added.
Deputy City Manager Tom Adams, who was in court Tuesday morning, says the city supports any decision the judge might make and two hearings related to the shelter and park use are now on the schedule. "My recommendation would be to go ahead and have a third public hearing process as we go forward to address the concerns they've addressed in court process," says Adams.
Opponents of the shelter site say they hope this courtroom dispute will be over before ground is broken at Mackenzie Park. "We feel certain we are going to win once the city and our attorney have chance to study and research the matter," says Frank Gutierrez, a plaintiff who is also suing the City of Lubbock.
NewsChannel 11 will continue following this lawsuit and bring you information as it becomes available.
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