Judge signs emergency order against Montrose Management District
Updated 10:46 pm, Monday, December 11, 2017
A district court judge on Monday signed an emergency temporary restraining order preventing the embattled Montrose Management District from issuing, collecting or spending assessments from commercial property owners in the Houston neighborhood.
An attorney representing property owners in two lawsuits against the district filed the order after learning it was planning to hold a board meeting Monday to discuss assessments and other matters.
The Montrose Management District is one of dozens in the Houston area created by the Legislature to promote economic development and make improvements to public areas in individual neighborhoods. Commercial property owners help pay for the improvements through assessments.
In October, a judge ruled in one of the cases, dating to 2012, that the district illegally collected nearly $6.6 million in assessments and that it must pay back the money. That judge also ordered the district to refrain from spending any of the assessments it has collected but not yet spent.
The district has appealed the case.
"Instead of humbly complying ... the district continues to arrogantly tax and spend money in violation of the law," Andy Taylor, attorney for the property owners, said in a statement.
He said Monday's ruling is a critical step toward forcing dissolution of the district.
The lawsuit under which the order was granted was filed in January. It claims the district collected an additional $1.4 million in assessments made after the earlier case was tried more than a year ago and that the additional money should be reimbursed as well. It also makes a claim that the district should be dissolved based on a petition signed by property owners.
Judge Wesley Ward signed the order in Harris County Ancillary Court.
The order expires Christmas Day, but a temporary injunction hearing has been set for Dec. 22.
The district and its attorneys could not immediately be reached Monday.
In a statement last month, the district said it "stands by its position that it is operating within its legal charter granted by the State of Texas."