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Hatsy Heep Shaffer sues

Thursday, May 3, 2001 by

Bradley entity alleging fraud

Company was prepared to forecose on Heep Ranch

Harriet ‘Hatsy’ Heep Shaffer has filed suit in State District Court against Strategic Land Management Consultants (SLMC), to prevent the company from foreclosing on Shaffer’s land. SLMC is controlled by Gary Bradley and has the same offices and employees, according to Shaffer’s petition. Bradley filed two suits against Heep last fall, alleging that she had agreed and then failed to develop her property in a partnership with him, that she had failed to repay debts and that she had slandered him. ( In Fact Daily, September 29, 2000)

In the suit filed this week, Shaffer claims that Bradley or his affiliates had enticed her into borrowing money on a fraudulent basis, with her ranch as collateral. The lawsuit says that SLMC was threatening foreclosure on Shaffer’s “homestead residence and adjoining land worth over twenty five million dollars . . .” The property in question is along I-35 in southern Travis and northern Hays Counties.

According to the petition, “Mr. Bradley, after encumbering her with debt owed to himself or affiliates, with assurance they would all be paid by Mr. Bradley, or the prospective partnership, then began to insist in their partnership negotiations that Ms. Shaffer agree to new and unacceptable terms. When Ms. Shaffer refused, Mr. Bradley set out to ruin her financially and take her property through foreclosure on an alleged lien held by SLMC (a Mr. Bradley entity), securing an obligation which Mr. Bradley had personally assured her she would never have to pay.”

The lawsuit also states that Bradley “has conspired with Capital Pacific Holdings, LLC, SLMC and SH-45 Development, LLP, and Alien, Inc. to commit an unlawful purpose by unlawful means and wrongfully foreclose on Ms. Shaffer’s homestead . . .” In addition, the suit claims that SLMC committed usury and violated the Texas Debt Collections Practices Act.

SLMC denied all of Shaffer’s allegations and filed a counterclaim against her, alleging that Shaffer has failed to make timely payments on a debt to SLMC and Capitol Pacific Holdings(CPH). Attorney Christopher Bell of Smith, Robertson, Elliott & Glenn wrote a letter to the court to say that SLMC and CPH did not intend to foreclose on Shaffer’s property on Tuesday.

Shaffer’s lawsuit requests a temporary restraining order against SLMC to prevent foreclosure, as well as damages. However, no date has been set on a hearing and the order is apparently unnecessary at this time. Mark Schwartz of Turner, Schwartz & Hearne is representing Shaffer.

Environmental Board to rethink

Impervious cover assumptions

Subcommittee will consider housing costs

As a result of a clash between affordable housing and environmental protection, the Environmental Board voted unanimously last night to reconsider its December recommendation to change impervious cover assumptions. However, discussion during last night’s meeting leaned toward a desire to secure solid data on the city’s assumptions and to maintain numbers that ensure protection of the environment. ( See In Fact Daily, Dec. 14, 2000)

“The Board’s message is: we don’t want to use phony data,” said Chair Lee Leffingwell. It would be better to abandon assumptions altogether than to do that, he added.

Board Member Matt Watson said—as someone who can’t afford to buy a house in Austin, and to whom the high cost of rent is even an issue—“I’m very attuned to affordable housing.” But this is the wrong way to go about it, he said. “This is the tail wagging the dog. We’re going about environmental protection completely the wrong way . . . I personally think going to affordability through this route is totally unacceptable.”

Dominic Chavez, representing the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA), presented the Board with RECA’s resolution urging the Board to follow a city staff recommendation to maintain the assumptions set in 2000. The Planning Commission endorsed that recommendation. The resolution, drafted on Tuesday, states that RECA is committed to providing affordable housing and that “any increase to impervious cover assumptions for smaller, more affordable lots would result in the loss of every sixth home in a subdivision development and result in an increase in the cost of housing, thereby creating a significant barrier to providing affordable housing in Austin with no real benefits to the environment . . .”

The loss of those lots would increase the cost of each home by $4,000 to $6,000, Chavez said, because of increased lot size and infrastructure costs. “That dollar amount may lock people out of the ability to buy those homes,” he said. His calculations, he noted, came from a study done by Terry Mitchell of Milburn Homes.

Board Member Karin Ascot asked about the amount of square footage of the homes at issue. The amount of impervious cover stated in the assumptions for the lot size in question comes to 2,588 square feet on a maximum lot size of 5,750, Chavez said.

“If we’re talking about a 2,000 square foot home on a small lot then affordability is a moot point,” Ascot said, with a nod from Leffingwell.

A house that big is not affordable housing, Ascot said. “It’s a moot point to change the assumptions.” When she was told part of the impervious cover assumption might include a swimming pool, she added, “If you have a pool, that’s not affordable housing.”

Chavez asked the Board not to change the assumptions, and said the discussion was pitting the environment against affordable housing. “I don’t think that’s an issue; it’s a false choice,” he said. But, if the Board does decide to recommend changing the assumptions, it “better have clear, overwhelming evidence that there is a real problem,” he added. “We simply support staff on this.”

Board Member Debra Williams will chair a subcommittee scheduled to meet Monday at 11 a.m. to grapple with the issue. Leffingwell, along with Watson and Board Member Ramon Alvarez, comprise the rest of the subcommittee. They plan to bring the subject back for full Board discussion on May 16.

Commission postpones action on

Wastewater for Lost Creek office

Travis County decisions worry staff

A request from the Lost Creek Municipal Utility District to be allowed to provide wastewater service to a lot at 912 S. Capital of Texas Highway was postponed for at least one month by the Water and Wastewater Commission last night. Members of the MUD’s board of directors were at the meeting and did address the commission, but the item was pulled from the agenda because of some last-minute questions regarding the possibility that Travis County could extend two roads, Las Cimas Parkway and Whitemarsh Valley, onto the site.

The MUD needed a recommendation from the Water and Wastewater Commission because the 9.65-acre tract lies within the city’s Limited Purpose Annexation area. Las Cimas Associates, a limited partnership with plans to develop office space on the site, had agreed to set aside two acres for a park and green space to lease to the MUD. Bart Jennings with the City of Austin’s Water and Wastewater Utility said information regarding Travis County’ s plans for the two roads was received just before Wednesday’s meeting. If the county should decide to extend those roads, they would go through the land set aside for the park—reducing the total green space available. “We would need to know how that affects the intended use; if it would affect the amount of development, and to what extent,” Jennings said.

Sarah Crocker, who represents the MUD, said the wastewater service would be for an office complex on the property. According to commission documents, the service would be the same as 41 living unit equivalents.

City legal staff will have time before the next commission meeting to determine if granting the permit for out-of-district service would encourage development within the Drinking Water Protection Zone. A City Council resolution specifically discourages such development. (See In Fact, June 23, 1998)

©2001 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Lewis suit dismissed . . . The lawsuit filed by David Terrell against former City Council Member Willie Lewis was dismissed by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Richard Scott on Wednesday. Terrell was Lewis’ campaign manager during his unsuccessful re-election bid last year. He claims Lewis failed to pay him for at least two months worth of work. Terrell filed a claim for $5,000, but then submitted paperwork into evidence showing he was owed $5,575. Since the JP court is only allowed to deal with amounts up to $5,000, Judge Scott dismissed the case. He advised Terrell he could re-file in a County Court-at-Law or try to work something out with Lewis . . . Clean air loophole target of press conference . . . Former members of the Legislature Bob Gammage and Sissy Farenthold will join environmental activists for a press conference at the Room 2E9 outside the Senate Chambers today to talk about environmental issues at stake in the TNRCC sunset legislation. Texas Campaign for the Environment is sponsoring the press conference, which will feature stacks of petitions urging that the grandfather loophole be closed . . . Doggett, Slusher, Wynn will bike to work Friday . . . Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, Council Members Daryl Slusher and Will Wynn and Congressman Lloyd Doggett want to support Bike To Work Day, which is Friday. Doggett, Slusher and Wynn are scheduled to meet at Whole Foods, 601 N. Lamar, for breakfast and bicycle down 9th Street at 9 a.m. Goodman plans to participate in the Political Pedal, which takes off from 8th Street and Congress for a short bike ride to the Capitol. Doggett and others will speak at the Capitol and officials will end the event at Ruta Maya Coffee House, 218 W. 4th Street. Bike To Work Day is coordinated by volunteers to promote cycling . . . Water district being considered . . . Language to create the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District in Hays County has been folded into Senate Bill 2, which is the main water-planning bill being considered this session. The Legislature gave preliminary approval to the conservation district in 1999, but included a provision calling for it to be ratified during the current session. More debate on SB 2 is expected today. . . Shuttle to City Council meeting . . . The City has contracted with Capitol Metro to provide bus service to the City Council meeting at the LCRA from the 11th Street Transit Center at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. and from One Texas Center at 4:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. There will be a public hearing on transportation project priorities at 6 p.m. The shuttle is free and is scheduled to leave the LCRA at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. . . . Seton to dedicate new special procedures suite. . . Seton will dedicate its new minimally-invasive procedures technology at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The $2.25 million system includes advanced digital imaging, precise live action images of small blood vessels and minimal radiation exposure. The public is welcome to attend.

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