WACO (August 19, 2011)—A ruling from a district court that enjoined the City of Gatesville from destroying an old nursing home building over a zoning question was overturned Wednesday in a Waco appeals court.
Retired district judge Derwood Johnson ruled in December 2010 against the city in a lawsuit brought by Gatesville residents Larry and Glenda Hughes that the city could not tear down an old nursing home building known as the Rotunda.
Johnson ruled the Hughes, who own property near the old building, presented adequate evidence in their suit to indicate the city’s plan for the Rotunda constituted “spot zoning”, which is illegal under Texas law.
But in its opinion issued this week, justices on the 10th Court of Appeals in Waco reversed Johnson ruling and lifted the injunction, which cleared the way for the City of Gatesville to go forward with its plan to demolish the building.
The Hughes can appeal the 10th Court decision to a state-level appellate court.
The Rotunda served as a nursing home for many years but was closed in 2000.
Since then the building has deteriorated, windows have been broken, the roof is unstable and the ceiling is falling in.
The building also is filled with asbestos and the cost of abatement would far exceed the cost of demolition.
“The Rotunda is an eyesore in the middle of a nice neighborhood,” said Luis Lobo, assistant Gatesville City Manager.
“We just need to go forward now and make the area safe and make the neighborhood a positive area for the city,” he said.
The city plan is to demolish the structure and clear the way for the local Boys and Girls Club to seek a grant that would make it possible to construct a facility there for children.
The issue now has to go before city council for a final decision on a plan to deal with the old building.
The Rotunda is just about a block from Gatesville Elementary School and just a few blocks from the junior high.
Tenth court Justice Al Scoggins rendered the court’s opinion and there was no dissent.