ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION SUPPORTS MUNICIPAL ZONING AUTHORITY
The Texas Commissioner of Education recently asked the Texas attorney general whether a home rule city may apply certain provisions of its land development regulations to an independent school district. The request is one of several recent requests that question municipal authority over school district development or operations. It stemmed from a dispute between a North Texas city and the school district in which the city is located.
The school district questioned the application of the following zoning ordinance provisions to the district:
- set back and height regulations;
- community design standards;
- sign standards;
- landscaping and screening requirements;
- supplemental requirements for screening of mechanical equipment and service areas;
- general provisions for fences and free standing walls; and
- fines for violations of such ordinances.
The district argued that the city should not be able to apply any type of "aesthetic regulations" to the district. The city argued that aesthetic regulations are integral to the main purpose of zoning ordinances—the protection of property values.
The attorney general's office - in opinion No. GA-0697 (2009) - rejected the school district's argument. Citing several Texas Supreme Court and appeals court decisions upholding municipal authority, the opinion is a good one for Texas cities and for municipal property owners.