<<Prev Rule

Texas Administrative Code

Next Rule>>
TITLE 31NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION
PART 1GENERAL LAND OFFICE
CHAPTER 15COASTAL AREA PLANNING
SUBCHAPTER AMANAGEMENT OF THE BEACH/DUNE SYSTEM
RULE §15.3Administration

(a) Integration of dune protection and beach access programs. The Dune Protection Act and the Open Beaches Act require certain local governments to adopt and implement programs for the preservation of dunes and the preservation and enhancement of use of and access to and from public beaches. These Acts provide for regulation of generally the same activities and the same geographic areas, and their requirements are scientifically and legally related. Local governments required to adopt dune protection and beach access programs shall integrate them into a single plan consisting of procedural and substantive requirements for management of the beach/dune system within their jurisdiction. The authority to integrate such plans is provided pursuant to the Dune Protection Act, the Open Beaches Act, and this subchapter. The local government plans shall be consistent with the requirements of the Open Beaches Act, the Dune Protection Act, and this subchapter, and each shall, whenever possible, incorporate the local government's ordinary land use planning procedures.

(b) Boundary of the public beach. The public beach is defined in the Open Beaches Act, §61.013(c), and §15.2 of this title (relating to Definitions). The line of vegetation is defined in the Open Beaches Act, §61.001(5), and §15.2 of this title (relating to Definitions). The line of vegetation is typically used to determine the landward extent of the public beach. However, there are portions of the Texas coast where there is no marked vegetation line or the line is discontinuous or modified. In those portions of the coast, the line of vegetation shall be determined consistent with §15.10(b) of this title (relating to General Provisions) and the Open Beaches Act, §61.016 and §61.017.

  (1) If there is no clearly marked line of vegetation, the "line of vegetation" delineating the public beach shall be the line of constant elevation connecting two clearly marked lines of vegetation of equal elevation on each side, but if there are no clearly marked lines of vegetation on each side, the "line of vegetation" shall not extend inland further than 200 feet from the seaward line of mean low tide.

  (2) If there is no clearly marked line of vegetation, the "line of vegetation" delineating the public beach shall be the line of average elevation connecting two clearly marked lines of vegetation of unequal elevation on each side, but if there are no clearly marked lines of vegetation on each side, the "line of vegetation" shall not extend inland further than 200 feet from the seaward line of mean low tide.

  (3) If the vegetation line has been obliterated or is created artificially and there is a vegetation line consistently following a line more than 200 feet from the seaward line of mean low tide, the 200-foot line shall constitute the landward boundary of the area subject to the public easement.

  (4) An individual seeking line of vegetation determination for a proposed purchase of property or for proposed construction must initially file a request with the local government having authority for Beachfront Construction Certificates/Dune Protection Permits. After review by the local government, the request and initial determination by the local government must be forwarded to the General Land Office for review and approval.

  (5) If the commissioner has issued an order under §15.12 of this title (relating to Temporary Orders Issued by the Land Commissioner) or §15.13 of this title (relating to Disaster Recovery Orders) the line of vegetation shall be delineated in accordance with the order(s) and an initial determination by the local government is not required.

  (6) When a Beachfront Construction Certificate/Dune Protection Permit application is submitted to the General Land Office for review and comment, the line of vegetation depicted on any map, aerial photograph, or other documentation shall be subject to verification by the General Land Office.

  (7) The determination of the location of the line of vegetation by the commissioner of the General Land Office as provided by the Open Beaches Act, §§61.016 - 61.017 and 61.0171, constitutes prima facie evidence of the landward boundary of the area subject to the public easement until a court adjudication establishes the line in another place.

(c) Beachfront construction certification areas. The General Land Office has the responsibility of protecting the public's right to use and have access to and from the public beach and of providing standards to the local governments certifying construction on land adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico consistent with such public rights. The Open Beaches Act, §61.011(d)(6), limits the geographic scope of the beachfront construction certification area to the land adjacent to and landward of public beaches and lying in the area either up to the first public road generally parallel to the public beach or to any closer public road not parallel to the beach, or the area up to 1,000 feet of mean high tide, whichever distance is greater. For this area, local governments shall prepare a beach access and use program, pursuant to the Open Beaches Act, §61.015, for inclusion in their dune protection and beach access plans to control any adverse effects of beachfront construction on public beach use and access. Applications for beachfront construction certificates shall be reviewed by local governments for consistency with their dune protection and beach access plans.

(d) Critical dune areas and dune protection lines. The commissioner of the General Land Office, as trustee of the public lands of Texas, has the responsibility to identify and protect Texas' critical dune areas that are essential to the protection of coastal public land, public roads, public beaches, and other public resources. Local governments have the responsibility to establish dune protection lines for the purpose of preserving sand dunes within their jurisdiction. The Dune Protection Act, §63.121 and §63.012, respectively, limits the geographic scope of critical dune areas and the location of the dune protection line to that portion of the beach within 1,000 feet of mean high tide of the Gulf of Mexico.

(e) Identification of critical dune areas. Pursuant to the authority provided in the Dune Protection Act, §63.121, the General Land Office has identified critical dune areas as all dunes and dune complexes located within 1,000 feet of mean high tide of the Gulf of Mexico. This identification is based on the determination that all of the various protective functions served by the dunes and dune complexes located within that 1,000 feet are essential to the protection of public beaches, submerged land, and state-owned land, such as public roads and coastal public lands, from nuisance, erosion, storm surge, and high wind and waves. Critical dune areas are related to dune protection lines in that local governments are required to establish such lines for the purpose of preserving dunes in a location landward of all critical dune areas. Criteria for establishing dune protection lines shall, at a minimum, include the criteria for establishing critical dune areas in this subsection.

(f) Establishment of dune protection lines. Pursuant to the authority provided in the Dune Protection Act, §63.011, local governments shall establish and maintain dune protection lines which preserve, at a minimum, the dunes within the critical dune areas as defined in this subchapter. The establishment of the line should include the protection of critical dune areas from erosion caused by natural forces and development on adjacent land. Accordingly, the Dune Protection Line should be established in a location that will allow local governments to implement Texas Natural Resources Code, §33.607. A local government must conduct a field inspection to determine the approximate location of the line unless it proposes to establish or relocate its line at a distance of 1,000 feet of mean high tide of the Gulf of Mexico, as that 1,000 feet is the maximum extent of the local government's jurisdiction for establishing dune protection lines.

(g) Deadline for establishment of dune protection lines. Local governments shall establish dune protection lines as part of the dune protection component of their local plans. The local plans shall be submitted to the state no later than 180 days after the effective date of this subchapter. Therefore, local governments shall establish dune protection lines no later than 180 days after this subchapter goes into effect.

(h) Information required regarding dune protection lines. Local governments are required to submit the following information to the General Land Office to allow state evaluation of the adequacy of the dune protection line location: a map or drawing of the line; a written description of the line; or a written description and a map or drawing. This information shall be included in the local government's dune protection and beach access plan and must clearly designate for the public and the state the location of the line and the location of dunes seaward of the line. All maps, drawings, or descriptions shall incorporate sufficient elements of the Texas State Plane Coordinate System to enable such description to be located on the ground and shall be tied to and/or include the Texas State Plane Coordinates for two or more monumented points along any described boundary. Each local government shall file a map or drawing or description of its dune protection line with the clerk of the county or municipality establishing the line.

(i) State assistance in the establishment of local government dune protection lines. The General Land Office may assist and advise local governments in establishing or modifying a dune protection line. Pursuant to the Dune Protection Act, §63.013, local governments shall notify the General Land Office of the establishment of dune protection lines and any subsequent change in a line. Upon such notification, the General Land Office shall review the location of the line by examining the map or description of the line submitted to the state and by conducting field inspections, as necessary. The General Land Office will review the location of the line to determine whether the line meets the geographic standard of being located landward of all critical dune areas. If the General Land Office is satisfied that the line meets that geographic standard, the General Land Office will notify the local government of this finding in writing. If the line does not meet that geographic standard, the General Land Office will assist and advise the local government in adjusting the line.

(j) State review of dune protection line location. Each local government shall submit the information regarding the location of the dune protection line, as required in subsection (h) of this section, to the General Land Office as part of its dune protection and beach access plan. In determining whether to approve the local plan, the General Land Office will review the various components of the plan, including the adequacy of the location of a local government's dune protection line (with respect to the protection of critical dune areas), based on the geographic standards provided in subsection (i) of this section.

(k) Local government review of dune protection line location. Each local government shall review its dune protection line every five years to determine whether the line is adequately located to achieve the purpose of preserving critical dune areas. In addition to the five-year review, each local government shall review the adequacy of the location of the line within 90 days after a tropical storm or hurricane affects the portion of the coast in its jurisdiction.

(l) Provisions for public hearings on dune protection lines. Local governments shall provide notice of a public hearing to consider establishing or modifying a dune protection line by publishing such notice at least three times in the newspaper with the largest circulation in the county. The notice shall be published not less than one week nor more than three weeks before the date of the hearing. Notice shall be given to the General Land Office not less than one week nor more than three weeks before the hearing. In the notice to the General Land Office, local governments shall also include the information described in subsection (h) of this section.

(m) Local government authority. Local governments shall include in the plans submitted to the General Land Office citations of all statutes, policies, and ordinances which demonstrate the authority of the local government to implement and enforce the plan in a manner consistent with the requirements of this subchapter. Local government plans shall also demonstrate the coordination, on the local level, of the dune protection, beach access, erosion response, and flood protection programs (if participating in the National Flood Insurance Program under the National Flood Insurance Act). Each local government shall integrate these programs into one plan for the management of the beach/dune system within its jurisdiction. The General Land Office will provide written guidance on the form and content of the plan upon written request by a local government.

(n) Content of local government dune protection and beach access plans. Local government plans shall contain procedural mechanisms and substantive requirements necessary for compliance with this subchapter, the Dune Protection Act, and the Open Beaches Act. Local governments shall attach copies of this subchapter, the Dune Protection Act, and the Open Beaches Act to their plans, and their plans shall state that these state laws are incorporated into the plans. A local government shall also state in its plan that any person in violation of the incorporated state laws is in violation of its local plan.

Cont'd...

Next Page

Link to Texas Secretary of State Home Page | link to Texas Register home page | link to Texas Administrative Code home page | link to Open Meetings home page