By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
Special to the PRESS
BROWNSVILLE — The Cameron County Commissioners’ Court granted a permit on Thursday requested by Larry Mark Polsky to construct a retaining wall on the tracts located just north of South Padre Island city limits; the approval, however, is contingent on the Texas General Land Office’s (GLO) approval of an amended dune protection plan that the county submitted.
The motion was made by Precinct 1 County Commissioner Sophia C. Benavides and seconded by Precinct 2 County Commissioner Ernie L. Hernandez before passing with all commissioners in favor, the only exception being Precinct 4 County Commissioner Dan Sanchez.
The decision came after nearly five hours of testimony from all interested parties and a near 45-minute executive session.
“I think (the decision) was extremely fair and a very rational decision,” said Polsky, owner of the property in question. “It’s win-win for myself, the county and for the people of Cameron County. I think that most normal humans would never have bought the property I bought, but being that I’m a litigation lawyer I don’t have any problem with it. It comes with the territory. There isn’t any normal investor who’s going to buy the same property I bought and go through this process.”
The process Polsky is referring to is acquiring the permit which would allow him to develop Seabreeze Estates on his property purchased north of the South Padre Island city limits, which prevents him from building a retaining wall around his property.
With the decision made by the Cameron County Commissioners’ Court, Polsky plans to have his new dune protection permit prepared soon to present it to the Attorney General in Austin.
“It’ll include swimming pools and pavers,” Polsky said. “It’ll include retaining walls with a reduction by about 50 to 75 feet according to the new dune protection plan. I will then file it in Austin in the case that the Attorney General has filed against me there for temporary injunction, ask the court to deny the temporary injunction based upon the fact that I’ve been given this permit conditioned upon approval of the new dune protection plan, which has not yet been approved or disapproved.”
“I will also file a declaratory judgment action in Cameron County, naming the County and the General Land Office, asking a district judge in Cameron County to state that what the County did today is legal,” Polsky continued. “I won’t be asking for fees and costs against the County. In Count 2 of my declaratory judgment I’ll be suing the General Land Office here in Cameron County, asking a district court judge to say that their denial of the new Cameron County dune protection plan is arbitrary and capricious and has no rational basis for their denying it.”
While Polsky views the Commission’s decision as a victory, Surfrider Foundation South Texas Chairman Rob Nixon, whose organization has opposed Polsky’s plans and delivered his own testimony during the public hearing asserting as much, remains optimistic that the GLO will rule against Polsky.
“Essentially the Commissioners Court left it up to the GLO,” Nixon said. “For Mr. Polsky to continue building his wall, the GLO is going to have to certify their new plan, which is under review by the GLO, and of course the GLO has problems with it. The court kind of just said, ‘It’s the GLO’s problem now.’ Basically today is just kind of like a non-decision. It’s going to be up to the GLO, still. It’ll be up to Polsky’s hearing he has on the injunction suit, and then we’ll see where it goes from there.”