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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Developer’s plan to fill in part of Lake Austin hits snag
A developer seeking to build a boat dock on Lake Austin ran into a problem Wednesday night when a member of the Environmental Board raised questions about just who owned the land under the shore of the lake. Builder Bruce Aupperle plans to build a bulkhead along the shoreline and fill in areas where the Lake Austin shoreline has eroded at 7908 Big View Dr.
Aupperle was seeking a positive recommendation for a variance from the Environmental Board to build in the Critical Water Quality Zone along Lake Austin. The Parks and Recreation Board, contingent upon the Environmental Board’s concurrence, tentatively approved the plan. The Zoning and Platting Commission must also hear the details.
Aupperle said the plan was to reinforce the shoreline where the dock was planned in order to shore up erosion from wave action along the lake, and to protect the exposed roots of several large Cypress trees along the bank. The dock would be built about 30 feet out into the lake.
While most of the plan appeared to be routine, Board Member Phil Moncada noticed that plat Aupperle was using to demonstrate the plan showed that the property line ended at the shoreline of the lake.
“Do you have permission of the owner of the land underneath the water to put the fill in there?” he asked. “Do we even know who actually owns that land? Is it the City of Austin? The LCRA?” Moncada asked.
Aupperle said that traditionally, the first 15 feet under the lake belonged to the landowner, and that he was not sure why this particular lot had been platted differently.
After more discussion, Commission Member Mary Ann Neely continued to press the legal issue.
“I’m concerned about the legal ramifications of filling in property without knowing who the owner is,” she said. “I would also like to hear from the city arborist about filling in around the Cypress trees. They seem to exist quite well in other places with exposed roots, so I wonder if he (Michael Embesi) is comfortable with this.”
Moncada moved to postpone the case until August 20, specifying that city staff research ownership of the property beyond the shoreline, have arborist Embesi available to discuss filling around the roots of the Cypress trees, and to find out if any of the trees are protected under city codes. The motion passed on a 4-0 vote.
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