The Neighbor’s Reaction to Ashby High Rise Verdict

May 3rd, 2014

From Erin Mulvaney on how the neighbors resent the way they were represented as “rich, snobby people” :

The developer’s plan, first announced in 2007, received immediate backlash in Southhampton and Boulevard Oaks, communities with a mix of townhomes, duplexes and million-dollar brick homes near Rice Village and the Museum District.

Leslie Miller said when she first heard of the project in 2007, “I just looked out my window and thought, ‘Geez Louise, we can’t sit out there anymore.'”

She remembers an op-ed she penned at the time for the Houston Chronicle asking readers to visualize the tower’s shadow, and all the cars emptying out of the parking lot onto two-lane streets – “a perfect storm is brewing – literally in my backyard in Southampton,” she wrote.

During recent court hearings, she and her neighbors fighting the tower were compared to “the people who fought the Crusades” and were portrayed by the developer’s attorneys as entitled, relentless snobs who don’t think the rules – or, in this case, the lack of rules – apply to them. Miller takes offense at this depiction.

“People who weren’t at the trial don’t know the facts,” she said. “It was disheartening to hear that we were rich, snobby people. We are just average, working people.”

On the origin of the challenge:

The protest began with meetings around kitchen tables and became, ultimately, a noisy gathering of 600 at the local elementary school. Petition signatures were gathered. Neighbors attended meeting after meeting before City Council and an appeals board. The developers, frustrated by all the delays, sued the city, which finally gave them a permit in 2012 if they agreed to design changes.

Then the neighbors filed suit in May 2013 challenging the permit. The Millers signed on as plaintiffs, concerned, in great part, about potential foundation damage to their home. …

But Leslie Miller said it was never about the money. “We fought long and hard,” she said. “I felt like I owed it to the community to step up. This was about our community and our home.”

Miller said she and her neighbors are waiting to see what will happen and will weigh their options going forward. They could appeal.

If you are at ALPS, I’ll be giving a talk on this topic in about 2 hours. At this point, my remarks are writing themselves in real time.