St. Mary's Law Journal


The Texas Legislature has recently made changes to Chapter 245 of the Local Government Code giving vested rights greater protection than ever before. Owners and developers now have greater protections, however, there are many circumstances under which the application of the law is unclear. Chapter 245 governs the issuance of permits for local development. The greater protections provided by the amendments include: defining the filing date upon which rights vest as the date “fair notice” is given to the regulatory agency, establishing a certified mail date as prima facie proof of the application’s filing date, and providing substantive rules governing a regulatory agency's ability to set the expiration date for an original permit application. The recent changes in the law, however, have led to questions as to the degree to which municipalities will honor the expansion of vested rights. There are open-ended questions related to common local rules because those issues are not expressly addressed in the statute’s language. Nonetheless, a municipality’s city council seeking to contravene vested rights is not the only obstacle an owner or developer may face. Public opinion may also be an obstacle. Public opinion can often affect the way a city council chooses to approach development projects. Given the current and expected growth experienced by many Texas cities, it is likely owners and developers in these communities may see the same kinds of comments in the arena of public opinion. Therefore, it is important for owners and developers to exercise their vested rights and seek to enforce those rights if municipalities refuse to hold true to Chapter 245’s mandates.


St. Mary's University School of Law