Austin (KXAN) — A landowner and developer alleges that a Central Texas transit agency damaged a private road on its property while building US 183 toll road. However, the toll agency disagrees, leaving the two stuck in a years-long legal dispute.
Adam Zarafshani, a partner at the Tech 3443 development team, said he had high hopes for the former Motorola tech campus when his group purchased more than 100 acres of land in East Austin a few years ago. Prior to this, the site had changed owners several times over the years, each with their own redevelopment plans.
“This is a really important site for [the] City of Austin,” Zarafshani said. “It just gives a lot of opportunities near the city that don’t exist – not of this size, not of this magnitude.”
The construction of the US 183 toll road through east Austin has undoubtedly sped up other developments in the area, but Zarafshani believes the toll road is also responsible for the collapse of one of the main roads leading to its development, SemiConductor Drive.
In 2015, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), which operates Tollway 183, set aside about four acres of land to create a settling pond that will eventually retain runoff from the tollway.
The previous landowners, Mos8 Partners, objected to the way the tolling agency handled this process through an eminent domain. Zarafshani said his group “inherited” the lawsuit between CTRMA and Mos8 – along with the deteriorating conditions of SemiConductor Drive.
According to court documents filed last fall, the group believes CTRMA used the private road as a dam, allowing stormwater to “run down the Semiconductor Drive embankment until it fails, or it allows stormwater to overflow across the road and flow.” downstream to commercial properties.” improved part of the Defendant’s property.
In the documents, Zarafshani’s lawyers claim that CTRMA’s own expert engineers knew the road was already eroding and that water from the pond could eventually “bring the road down.” Zarafshani said uncertainty prevented them from leasing parts of their development.
These documents describe two motions they filed in the case: one to try to get CTRMA to stop using the pond or repair the road, and the other to try to enforce a specific settlement agreement.
CTRMA has told KXAN that it cannot comment on the upcoming lawsuit.
According to retaliatory lawsuits, toll agency attorneys argued that the owners of the development had allowed their private road to deteriorate over the years and wanted to “pass the responsibility and cost of repairing that road onto the taxpayers.”
Attorneys for CTRMA insist that the agency has never prevented any site owner from doing work on SemiConductor Drive and accuse them of being “well aware that this endangers third parties who have access to the land.”
In addition, the CTRMA documents deny that it ever entered into a settlement agreement with the previous owners of the plots – something that Zarafshani’s group says happened before the toll agency backed out.
Instead, CTRMA filings allege that the parties negotiated, corresponded among themselves, and ultimately disagreed on issues such as the timing of any reservoir or roadway improvements and alternative road access during construction.
According to the document, CTRMA insists the parties never reached a formal agreement, which is why the agency abandoned what it called “unprofitable and repetitive settlement talks.” The filing even accuses the developers of violating a previous agreement not to bring settlement discussions to any hearings.
The judge hearing the case recently agreed with CTRMA and denied both motions filed by the Zarafshani group.
He said his group feels “stuck”, with no solution and no clear path forward.
“But so far, no one seems to mind that this is happening,” he said.