EL PASO, Texas - The 8th Court of Appeals has granted Dr. Max Grossman a second amended emergency order ordering the City of El Paso "to suspend any and all demolition permits which authorize the demolition of properties in the Duranguito neighborhood."
Monday, the City was granted a last-minute "stay of execution" halting a scheduled hearing to determine if Judge Patrick Garcia had jurisdiction to decide whether the City is in violation of the Texas Antiquities Act and to request a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) blocking demolitions.
Grossman argues the city is violating the Texas Antiquities Code by not notifying the Texas Historical Commission of its plans to undertake a big project, in this case, the multi-purpose center, so it can decide whether an archaeological survey is needed.
Grossman's attorneys reacted to the City's last-minute stay of execution and the 8th Court of Appeals granted Grossman an emergency appeal to halt the demolition in the neighborhood, pending a judge's ruling on Grossman's allegations regarding the Texas Antiquities Code.
City Attorney Sylvia Borunda-Firth said during a news conference Tuesday, "the only reason (Grossman) has standing in court is because they are alleging a violation of the Texas Antiquities Act." Borunda-Firth further stated, "I can assure you, the City is well aware of the Act and has always been in complaince with the Act."
Tuesday morning, a demolition crew started tearing down walls in buildings in the Duranguito neighborhood, despite Monday's court order postponing demolition. Grossman's attorney showed up with El Paso police and the court order to stop demolition.
District 8 City Representative Cissy Lizarraga emailed ABC-7 a statement saying she has introduced an agenda item "to formalize the immediate revocation of any existing demolition permits and a moratorium on the issuance of new demolition permits" in the arena footprint.
The Duranguito neighborhood is in Lizarraga's district. The city representative said she was "surprised and saddened" when she arrived at the Flor de Luna House at 300 W. Overland Tuesday morning. "The face of the building was destroyed. I was under the impression this was not going to happen without some kind of notice to interested parties."
Lizarraga further stated, "After sad reflection, I think the City should do more at this point than just rely on the courts or apologize for any misunderstanding."
In the wake of Tuesday's aborted demolition attempt, Grossman obtained the second amended emergecy order. "Finding that it is necessary to temporarily stay demolition of the properties in question pending expedited review of the issues presented, we grant Relator's request for emergency relief," the court order states.
The court ordered the City of El Paso to cease and desist all effort to demolish or remove people from the following properties:
- 215 W. Paisano
- 216 W. Overland
- 220 W. Overland
- 305 Chihuahua
- 308 Chihuahua
- 309 Chihuahua
- 312 Chihuahua
- 315 Chihuahua
The permits have been suspended for now and the City is required to respond by September 18, 2017.