With impending litigation looming, Wimberley city leaders May 29 opted to hire legal counsel separate from their city attorney.
At a May 29 special meeting, the Wimberley City Council unanimously voted to engage Fletcher, Farley, Shipman & Salinas, LLP for representation in the Steve Thurber vs. City of Wimberley lawsuit. City Attorney Charlie Zech will not represent the city in the case; Zech did not provide a reason for the decision.
Multiple sources told the News-Dispatch that Zech may be prevented from representing the city as they allege Zech was directly mentioned in the suit. (Zech’s name is not directly named in the suit.) However, language in the filing cited the “city attorney” in multiple instances.
Zech said it was not necessary to explain why he would not represent the city in the lawsuit. It is unknown as of press time what Wimberley’s legal fees are anticipated to be.
The move comes days after former Wimberley Mayor Steve Thurber filed suit against Wimberley.
At the center of the lawsuit, filed May 17 in Hays County District Court, is the de-annexation of Sabino Ranch, a 96-acre tract of land that was effectively removed from the city’s municipal control after council approval on March 21.
The property, owned by Scott Johnson, is adjacent to the property there the proposed boring will go under Cypress Creek.
Pipeline installed via the boring would transport raw sewage to Aqua Texas, a third-party wastewater provider, for the city’s wastewater services, pending approval from the Texas Water Development Board.
“We’re alleging that the discussion in executive session included that discussion about the easement, which was not presented to the public,” Thurber said. “Although we don’t know what happened in the meeting, documents tell the story of what could have happened.”
Thurber said the alleged favor was made apparent in Wimberley’s contract with Aqua Texas. Thurber argued city leaders granted the Johnson de-annexation in exchange for the Johnson easement in order to facilitate the plan to contract with Aqua Texas.
His argument centers on a section of the agreement with Aqua Texas, where language was changed a day before the de-annexation took place. Language shifted from Aqua “plans to obtain” an easement on March 20 to Aqua “has obtained an easement” on March 21.
“If so, council’s engaging in those easement dissuasions violated the TOMA,” Thurber said.