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Local News

April 29, 2014

Deshotel appointed co-chair of committee that will study coastal barrier system

PORT ARTHUR — Texas Rep. Joe Deshotel will co-chair a committee that will assess changes recently made to the Texas Open Beaches Act.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus appointed Deshotel, D-Beaumont, to the Joint Interim Committee to Study a Coastal Barrier System on Tuesday.

The Open Beaches Act grants the public and free and unrestricted access to state-owned beaches, extending from the line of mean-low tide to the line of vegetation that borders the Gulf of Mexico.

However, the committee is charged with studying the effectiveness of House Bill 3459— which, in the event of a hurricane, would permit the Land Commissioner of the General Land Office to temporarily set the line of vegetation at 200 feet from the line of mean-low tide in the event of a hurricane that obliterated.

This bill could create friction between the beach-goers and property owners on Galveston Island, Deshotel said. The committee will compile evidence from both parties, as well as beach owners and lawyers, to determine the impact of the bill if it is passed.

“This is primarily of interest to people who have beach homes, and people who enjoy going to the beach without being told that even though the land is touching water, it’s private property,” he said. “We want to draw balance between private property and open beaches.”

The committee will also examine the feasibility of creating and maintaining a coastal barrier system.

Deshotel said that the committee has already listened to input from concerned parties during the 83rd legislative session. He hopes that now the committee can settle what has already become a contentious issue.

“There’s a lot of issues involved when the line moves like that,” he said. “We’re going to try to resolve the issue as fairly as possible, for as many people as possible.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

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