Judge Tries to Soothe Anger Among Neighbors

Orders Over-Built House to Stay Up

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By Jack Douglas Jr. and Jason Allen

FORT WORTH (CBS11 NEWS) – In an update to a CBS11 News investigation, a judge has ruled against tearing down a partially-built house that violated building codes in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Fort Worth.

“I find there are no fact issues for a jury to decide,” state District Judge Susan McCoy said in her written decision, refusing to overturn an earlier order that the home at 2607 Simondale Drive – only a block from the Colonial Country Club – should remain upright.

The multi-million-dollar structure, which began in October 2014, was under construction for 15 months when the city halted work after determining its front walls are too close to the street.

The judge’s ruling was the second defeat for angry neighbors who say the huge house doesn’t fit in their neighborhood, and has hurt their property values.

The city’s Board of Adjustments earlier granted a waiver – essentially overlooking the code violations – for the home’s owners, Scott and Sara Schuster, even though the city admitted its building permit department, and a contractor, were at fault.

A lawyer for the upset neighbors, in a letter sent to them, said they should appeal the decision, adding: “I still believe an impartial court with full understanding of the facts should rule in our favor.”

In her ruling, Judge McCoy acknowledged the sensitivity of the case, saying, “Unfortunately, this matter involves neighbors pitted against neighbors …as a citizen of Tarrant County, a homeowner, and a mother to a family, I am not blind to the emotional repercussions of my decision.”

The judge also offered a definition of what a “home” is, saying it “carries a lot more significance than the actual dimensions or specifications of the building itself.”

“Home is defined as ‘the place of one’s residence,’ but it is also defined as ‘the societal unit formed by a family living together; a familiar usual setting,’“ McCoy said.

The judge suggested all the neighbors should find a way to just get along, saying: “It is understandable that everyone involved in this matter seeks not only legal redress, but also emotional redress.

“While I can provide the first, regrettably, I cannot provide the latter,” McCoy said.

If you want to reach CBS 11′s Senior Investigative Producer Jack Douglas Jr., you can email him at jdouglas@cbs.com. If you want to reach CBS 11′s Jason Allen, you can email him at jmallen@cbs.com.

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