SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A couple in central Texas is suing the city of San Marcos over a century-old metal balcony on their home. On the balcony is the initial of a previous homeowner who had historical ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
The letter “Z” is at the center of the lawsuit. Kristy Money and her husband Rolf Straubhaar are taking on the City of San Marcos and its Director of Planning and Development Services.
“It doesn’t represent our family’s values,” Money said.
History of the “Z”
The metal decor sits on top of a balcony on their home in the Burleson Historic District. According to the lawsuit, previous homeowner Frank Zimmerman installed it.
He owned a local theatre known for hosting Ku Klux Klan Day in the 1920s.
Money said they didn’t know about that when buying the house.
“We felt a bit heartbroken. We wanted to do our best to, to be a force for good,” Money said. “Teach our kids anti-racism values. We weren’t going to ignore it.”
Applying for its removal
Because of a local ordinance, Money had to apply to get permission from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to take the “Z” down.
At its May 4 meeting, the request was unanimously denied. Some of the commission members said it was a character defining element of the house.
“That’s the whole point of being in a historic district, you know, to kind of like respect the past,” said one commission member.
Money said she was left frustrated with the decision.
“This wasn’t my home, it felt like, like we were just guests here,” she said.
What the lawsuit is challenging
The family’s attorney is Chance Weldon, Director of Litigation at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Weldon said the lawsuit challenges the local ordinance that allows the commission to decide what a homeowner in the historic district can and can’t do with their property.
“We believe that both under the United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution when you regulate someone’s property, it has to be based in nuisance or harm, or something that actually falls within the general powers of government,” Weldon said.
Weldon said in the next month or so, the city will have to file a response. If they don’t reach an agreement, then it’ll go to the court for a decision.
The city’s response for comment
The City of San Marcos said it could not provide a statement on ongoing litigation.
KXAN reached out to members of the Historic Preservation Commission. One said they preferred not to comment.
Money said she just wants more freedom to do what she’d like with her house.
“Do what we think is best for for our forever home,” Money said.