Neighbor of planned Ashby high-rise wants construction to cease

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by Tim Wetzel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 18 at 8:00 PM

HOUSTON, Texas -- Developers call the planned building at 1717 Bissonnet a luxury high-rise, but jurors declared it a nuisance to its neighbors.

"We are so grateful to the jury," said homeowner Earl Martin. "You don't just build a 21-story building looming over people."

Martin is one of 20 neighbors who won part of the $1.6 million in damages because of the Ashby high-rise's impact on his property and quality of life. But he doesn't want the money; he wants a judge to stop construction.

KHOU legal analyst and law school dean Gerald Treece says that could be a tough battle.

"You may not want to be doing victory laps just yet," said Treece.

He says the $1.6 million in damages amount to chump change for developers and they could keep building -- arguing the money is final payment for the nuisance to the neighborhood.

Across town in the Third Ward-- residents waged a different battle for years against a dairy plant in their neighborhood.

"It's an eyesore," said Marcie Anderson, who fought the plant's expansion and eventually lost.

Treece says the residents along the Ashby development were organized, had a strong PR campaign and had financial resources to take the battle to court.

"The disparity between justice for the rich and the poor is neither newsworthy nor something novel, it's been true since there's been a legal system," said Treece.

But Anderson has some advice for the people near the Ashby high-rise.

"I would tell them to keep fighting."

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