A disgruntled property owner has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Kerrville, alleging it violated his 14th Amendment rights in a dispute over an office building.
Brent Bates filed the case in October 2021 after his Water Street building was repeatedly ordered to stop work because the city said the structure's occupancy limits required fire sprinklers — Bates disagrees with this assessment. The building, which overlooks the Guadalupe River, is located in the River Trail office complex and is more than 25,000 square feet and two stories.
Bates said his right to due process has been jeopardized by the city's appeal policy, which he suggested is rigged against him.
Bates has engaged in a permitting tussle with Kerrville Planning Department for more than two years. Built with an innovative paper-based material that resembles a stone veneer, the building would have been one of the more significant office buildings overlooking the river.
However, the fight over the building's occupancy and fire safety plans has been at the heart of the drama, which federal Judge Xavier Rodriguez will eventually hear. Bates' contention is that the building will only hold about 60 people — about 30 per floor — meaning it doesn't need a firefighting sprinkler system.
The City Council unanimously rejected Bates' first appeal in September of 2020. In his legal filings, Bates accuses the city of moving the item on the agenda and giving more time to a city staffer — Director of Innovation Guillermo Garcia — to explain the city's position than Bates was allowed.
Bates is not asking for damages — although he has claimed in the filing about lost days of work — he's asking for the judge to grant his appeal to allow him to resume work on the building.
Predictably, the city declined to comment on the matter. The city was served a summons on Jan. 7 and must respond to the claim by Jan. 28.
The filing in federal court hasn't been easy for Bates, who attempted to represent himself before Rodriguez ordered him to find an attorney. Bates eventually settled on his brother, Daniel Bates, a Fort Worth-based attorney.