Southwest Freeway arches in the dark during lawsuit

The colorful lights on the arches over the Southwest Freeway have been dark for more than a week after a judge ordered the group in charge of the lights, the Montrose Management District, to stop spending money.

A court hearing, regarding a lawsuit that could result in the light service being restored, ended late on Friday. 

The lawsuit is being filed by group of almost 1,000 businesses in the Montrose district of Houston who are fighting in court to keep the Montrose Management District from spending money.

The Montrose Management District is a government entity which says its job is to provide services to the Montrose section of Houston in the form of police safety patrols, graffiti abatement, garbage pickup and other functions. The organization gets its money by charging fees to commercial businesses in the district.

Those businesses are arguing in a lawsuit that the district is illegally charging them assessment fees.

More than a million dollars a year is being taken from the group of small businesses in the district, and the businesses never approved of the Montrose Management District when it formed, explained Daphne Scarbrough, a small business owner in the Montrose Management District.

Scarbrough calls it taxation without representation.

In court on Friday, the attorney for the group of businesses argued that the Montrose Management District should reimburse the fees it charged the businesses and no longer charge fees in the future.

The Montrose Management District is fighting in court to remove the temporary restraining order on its spending so that it can light the arches over the Southwest Freeway and continue normal operations. 

The judge says he will make a final decision in the case on Tuesday.