City Ordinances Interpretation In Court

Courts construe city ordinances by the same rules of construction that apply to statutes. See City of Coppell v. General Homes Corp, 763 S.W.2d 448, 453 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1988, writ denied) (citing Mills v. Brown, 159 Tex. 110, 114, 316 S.W.2d 720, 723 (1958)). When confronted with a question of construction of an ordinance, a court must first determine whether the ordinance is ambiguous. See Cail v. Service Motors, Inc., 660 S.W.2d 814, 815 (Tex. 1983). If the ordinance's meaning is clear and unambiguous, extrinsic aids and rules of construction are inappropriate, and the ordinance should be given its common, everyday meaning. See id. However, if the language of the ordinance is susceptible to two constructions, then the construction of the ordinance which will carry out the manifest purpose of the statute or ordinance should be followed. See Citizens Bank of Bryan v. First State Bank, Hearne, 580 S.W.2d 344, 348 (Tex. 1979). Matters of statutory construction are questions of law for the court to decide rather than issues of fact. See Johnson v. City of Fort Worth, 774 S.W.2d 653, 656 (Tex. 1989) (per curiam); Maley v. 7111 Southwest Freeway, Inc., 843 S.W.2d 229, 232 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1992, writ denied). We review questions of law de novo. See State v. Heal, 917 S.W.2d 6, 9 (Tex. 1996) (op. on reh'g).