Williamson County files lawsuit against City of Austin over hotel for homeless

The Williamson County Commissioners Court has voted to file a lawsuit against the City of Austin over the purchase of a hotel that would be used to house those experiencing homelessness.

The vote by the Williamson County Commissioner's Court tuesday to sue the city of Austin came after a private discussion with their legal team. The county attorney was authorized to use any legal means necessary against the city. 

Before the vote was made, Commissioner Terry Cook questioned if the fight was worth the cost. "I have a problem with chasing something where we may not have the likelihood of winning and I don’t want to waste taxpayer money if that’s the case," said Cook.

Commissioner Cynthia Long, who represents the Williamson County part of Austin where the Candlewood Suites hotel is located, was disappointed a lawsuit could not have been avoided. "I don’t get into fights I don’t think I can’t win," she said.

Commissioner Long and other commissioners issued a warning to the city back in February that a lawsuit was possible. Tuesday she offered this warning to those calling for legal action. "I will say this will be a marathon, not a sprint," said Long.

For almost a year now, residents and business owners near the Candlewood Suites hotel have opposed its purchase and conversion into a homeless shelter. Last week, the Austin City Council voted to spend $9 million for the 83-room hotel after reclassifying the site as a location for women who are victims of domestic abuse.

Opposition leader Rupal Chaudhari, who has also filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Austin, didnt believe reclassifying the project was on the up and up. "We were very aware from the beginning that this was going to be a bait and switch, because the language was so broad, they used women’s shelter, other services, or some other shelter," said Chaudhari.

In voting to sue Austin, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell accused Austin city leaders of ignoring an agreement they passed in June. "Your Commissioners Court will not tolerate a neighborhood bully pushing our community around," he said.

The promise was a formal council resolution, a pledge to work with Williamson County on matters like the purchase of Candlewood Suites.

"It’s clear we can’t trust the city of Austin, because they they gave us their word that they would communicate with us and they have failed to do so," said Gravell.

FOX 7 Austin reached out to Mayor Steve Adler for comment. A spokesperson said the city typically does not comment on pending litigation. FOX 7 Austin was told that Judge Gravell was notified about last week's upcoming vote on June 11th and that notification was made on August 5th.


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