Special to the PRESS
There is an important Public Forum regarding future development of the northern beaches of Cameron County on South Padre Island coming up Wednesday, Oct. 28!
In 2009, after Hurricanes Dolly and Ike decimated the Texas Coast Lines and the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association Fund, the 81st Texas Legislature passed legislation that required Texas Coastal Communities to come up with Erosion Response Plans to promote resilient development and reduce the risk of public expenditures in protecting development and infrastructure associated with these communities. The mandate read, “…to reduce public expenditures for erosion and storm damages. The plans may include provisions for establishing a building setback, protecting public beach access and the public beach easement, and procedures for preserving, restoring, and enhancing critical sand dunes that are necessary to protect public and private property from storms and erosion.”
Unfortunately the Cameron County Dune Protection Committee completely flipped the script on the idea of the plan and came up with a plan that actually moved the minimum state building setback lines 120 feet closer to the water and endanger beaches that have some of the highest erosion rates in Texas. In spite of a study called “Cameron County Erosion Analyses” by Bill Worsham of LJA engineering and Peter Ravella of PAR Consulting, which concluded that the County would be looking at between $30 million and $78 million per five miles of beach at five year intervals because of this proposed Erosion Response Plan, the County Commissioners Court still approved the plan. However, the plan was thankfully rejected by the Texas General Land Office (GLO). After several years of negotiations that went nowhere, essentially because of the lack of cooperation by the County Dune Protection Committee, the state has declared Cameron County ineligible for CEPRA and CMP funds that they desperately need to help manage their coasts and beach parks until they draft a new plan.
In this case, the Commissioners Court has now responded by bypassing the County Dune Protection Committee, which has now cost one developer $850,000 in fines and the County more than $20 million in damages on just two projects they have approved ignoring state regulations and deed restrictions, and hired PAR Consulting run by Peter A. Ravella, who researched and published the original study originally rejected by the Commissioners, to come up and help implement a new Erosion Response Plan.
This process starts with a public forum on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Cameron County Commissioners Courtroom located at 1100 E. Monroe in Brownsville. The basics of the new plan will be presented and public input will be sought. The Surfrider Foundation South Texas Chapter encourages all who can make the meeting to please attend, get educated and provide your comments.
More information can be found at the PAR Consulting Website created for the Cameron County Erosion Response Plan at www.CameronCountyERP.com!
Thank you for your concern on the future responsible development of our beaches!
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