After twice citing Kristi Bass for renting out her Barndominium without a permit and twice rejecting her requests for a permit, the city of Lacy Lakeview is now suing Bass in an effort to shut down rentals of the property made famous on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.”
In a continuation of the dispute that has raged since August, when city officials ordered Bass to stop renting the 2,700-square-foot former horse barn as a vacation rental, the city is seeking an injunction against Bass in a suit filed Tuesday in Waco’s 170th State District Court.
Bass put the Barndominium and the surrounding 16 acres on sale for $1.2 million by early April after her second request for a permit to operate it as a vacation rental was denied by Lacy Lakeview City Council in March.
The suit, filed by Lacy Lakeview City Attorney David Deaconson, asks Judge Jim Meyer to issue a temporary injunction blocking Bass from advertising the property at 123 Spring Creek Drive and renting it out to Central Texas visitors. As of Tuesday, the rental remained listed on VRBO.
The city will seek a temporary injunction at a hearing, which Deaconson said should be held in the next couple of weeks. If the judge grants the temporary injunction, it will remain in place until a trial, at which the city will seek a permanent injunction.
Bass deferred comment Tuesday to her attorney, Susan Kelly.
“We look forward to the opportunity to present our side of the case in court,” Kelly said. “I guess prosecuting her as a criminal wasn’t enough for them.”
The lawsuit states that “without the extraordinary relief” of injunction, Bass will continue to ignore the authority of the city and its council.
“Defendant Kristi Bass has consistently refused to refrain from advertising and renting out the property in violation of the city of Lacy Lakeview zoning ordinance,” the suit alleges. “Defendant Bass has also shown that she is willing to disregard the city council’s decisions, essentially challenging the city council’s authority.”
In response to the citations from the city that allege she is operating a business without a permit, Bass has argued that she has been singled out for selective prosecution, saying others have run bed-and-breakfast operations in the city for years without permits.
May 24 hearing
A pretrial hearing on those citation cases has been set for May 24. Bass has asked a judge to dismiss the complaints against her.
Bass hoped to capitalize on the popularity of “Fixer Upper” hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines, who renovated the barn as part of the HGTV show. The property is about 10 miles from the Gaineses’ Magnolia Market at the Silos, and Bass hoped to rent the Barndominium to “Fixer Upper” fans and others for $1,200 to $1,500 per night. As of Tuesday, the average nightly price listed on VRBO was $688.
Neighbors of the property, including a former Lacy Lakeview City Council member, protested Bass’ plans and filed complaints with the police department. They claimed Bass was operating a business in an area zoned for residential use and would affect property values, increase traffic and cause myriad other problems.
Bass bought the property from Todd and Lexia Meek, who owned it when it was featured during the third season of “Fixer Upper.”
Bass told Lacy Lakeview officials in her most recent permit application that she has had to hire attorneys since the dispute arose and has been singled out for unfair treatment.
“I simply can’t fathom anyone’s opposition to what I am proposing if they simply took the time to hear my heart, see my vision and openly consider the reality of the options,” Bass wrote.