City officials in Plano are working to block a citizen-led petition effort demanding a public vote on “Plano Tomorrow,” a recently approved development plan that’s drawn notable opposition from local residents for its push to expand high-density housing and urbanization.
Citizens under the banner of “Plano Future” launched an online site to organize, and claim to have worked with over eighty volunteers over a two week period collecting over 4,000 signatures from Plano residents. That number is nearly twice the 1,861 required by the city’s charter to place the issue before voters. According to organizers, over ninety percent of those signatures have been verified as registered voters.
The momentum for the petition drive exploded after the city council passed the controversial plan (6-2) on Monday, October 12th, blatantly rejecting near unanimous opposition from hundreds of concerned residents who testified at the meeting. It’s clear the push for higher-density is not coming from residents.
Plano Future organizers are committed to the fight for a public vote. A recent email to their supporters read:
“The City has indicated they will contest the petition on legal grounds. We believe they are wrong and we are preparing to force them to honor our petition in accordance with the Plano City Charter. We will take legal action if necessary. Instead of wasting time and tax dollars fighting their own citizens, we call on Mayor LaRosiliere, City Manager Glasscock and the city council to work with the citizens to listen to our concerns and amend the plan. We will see what comes next but rest assured – we are not going away.”
Plano officials allege the development plan is not subject to a public referendum, although the opposition’s lawyers say a plain reading of the charter suggests otherwise. The city has gleefully joined the ranks of other citizen-defiant cities across the Lone Star State, using taxpayer resources to fight lawful petition efforts.
Houston is the most recent example. Mayor Annise Parker and her city staff shamelessly attempted to circumvent the law in order to block a public vote this past November, which was later challenged by citizens in a lawsuit.
Fortunately, the Texas Supreme Court sided with the law, ruling against Parker and her allies, and required that a public vote be held in accordance with Houston’s Charter. The “HERO” ordinance the petition challenged was defeated by 61% of voters.
As was the case in Houston, it’s self-evident that the push for higher-density is not coming from every-day Plano citizens, and with the help of regional influence exerted by the North Central Texas Council of Governments and area developers, it’s spreading to nearby communities such as Colleyville. It remains to be seen whether or not Colleyville officials will ignore their residents similarly where the fight has not yet begun. In Plano, the struggle against unaccountable government is far from over.