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Planning Commission reiterates need for new shoreline standards

Thursday, October 14, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

The Planning Commission took a quick second vote on the proposed bulkhead ordinance this week, the result of a posting error before their last vote on the item in September. (See In Fact Daily, Sept. 30, 2010) At that meeting, the commission supported a recommendation for new shoreline standards for bulkheads and trams but added a caveat, asking city leaders to consider regulating watercraft in a way to minimize the destruction of lake shorelines.

 

The second posting gave environmental scientist Andrew Clamann—who joked that his extra presentation would be less “sleep inducing” than his first—a second chance to address commissioners’ concerns expressed during the initial vote, including the feasibility of regulating watercraft on the lake.

 

Commissioners wanted to send a strong message to Council that new design standards on lakeside development of bulkheads would not be enough to stop the erosion of the historic shoreline on Lake Austin on their own. According to the recommendation, the damage created by watercraft also needs to be regulated,.

 

Clamann said that, according to city code, the purview of watercraft ultimately belongs to the Parks and Recreation Board. The board had expressed some interest, but took no action, on the subject, Clamann told the Planning Commission.

 

On other subjects raised by the board, Clamann said:

 

The variance process for bulkheads will go through the Board of Adjustment. In some cases, the variance might also go through the parks board or the Environmental Board. The new ordinance does not change the variance process;

 

Existing noncompliant structures will not be penalized. The new standards only apply to new construction if an existing bulkhead is destroyed or replaced; and

 

Vertical slopes, using beaches of sand or gravel, already existing along the lake provide good examples of feasible bulkheads.

 

The vote of the Planning Commission reaffirmed its prior recommendation on a vote of 6-1, with Alfonso Hernandez, once more, voting against the motion. Hernandez has expressed concerns that some of the parameters set out in the ordinance could rob owners of their property rights. Commissioners Mandy Dealey and Dave Anderson were absent.

 

The recommendation encourages Council to consider the regulation of watercraft and the reclamation of the historic shoreline along the lake.

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