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TITLE 31NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION
PART 1GENERAL LAND OFFICE
CHAPTER 15COASTAL AREA PLANNING
SUBCHAPTER AMANAGEMENT OF THE BEACH/DUNE SYSTEM
RULE §15.4Dune Protection Standards

(a) Dune protection required. This section provides the standards and procedures local governments shall follow in issuing, denying, or conditioning dune protection permits. A local government shall protect dunes and dune vegetation from adverse effects resulting directly or indirectly from construction in a critical dune area or seaward of its dune protection line, as cumulatively required by the Dune Protection Act, this subchapter, and that local government's dune protection and beach access plan.

(b) Procedures for local government permit determinations and permit issuance. Before issuing a dune protection permit, a local government shall make the following determinations.

  (1) The proposed activity is not a prohibited activity as defined in subsection (c) of this section, §15.5 of this title (relating to Beachfront Construction Standards), or §15.6 of this title (relating to Concurrent Dune Protection and Beachfront Construction Standards).

  (2) The proposed activity will not materially weaken dunes or materially damage dune vegetation based on the application of technical standards resulting in substantive findings under subsection (d) of this section.

  (3) There are no practicable alternatives to the proposed activity and the impacts cannot be avoided as provided in subsection (f)(1) of this section.

  (4) The applicant's mitigation plan will adequately minimize, mitigate, and/or compensate for any unavoidable adverse effects, as provided in subsections (f)(2) - (5) of this section and the applicant has affirmatively demonstrated the ability to mitigate adverse effects on dunes and dune vegetation.

  (5) Where mitigation is required, that the applicant has provided landowners immediately adjacent to the tract with notice of the hearing at least 10 days prior to the hearing on the application.

(c) Prohibited activities. A local government shall not issue a permit or certificate authorizing the following actions within critical dune areas or seaward of that local government's dune protection line:

  (1) activities that are likely to result in the temporary or permanent removal of sand from the portion of the beach/dune system located on or adjacent to the construction site, including:

    (A) moving sand to a location landward of the critical dune area or dune protection line; and

    (B) temporarily or permanently moving sand off the site, except for purposes of permitted mitigation, compensation, or an approved dune restoration or beach nourishment project and then only from areas where the historical accretion rate is greater than two feet per year, and the project does not cause any adverse effects on the sediment budget;

  (2) depositing sand, soil, sediment, or dredged spoil which contains the hazardous substances listed in Volume 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 302.4, in concentrations which are harmful to people, flora, and fauna as determined by applicable, relevant, and appropriate requirements for toxicity standards established by the local, state, and federal governments;

  (3) depositing sand, soil, sediment, or dredged spoil which is of an unacceptable mineralogy or grain size when compared to the sediments found on the site (this prohibition does not apply to materials related to the installation or maintenance of public beach access roads running generally perpendicular to the public beach)

  (4) creating dredged spoil disposal sites, such as levees and weirs, without the appropriate local, state, and federal permits;

  (5) constructing or operating industrial facilities not in full compliance with all relevant laws and permitting requirements prior to the effective date of this subchapter;

  (6) operating recreational vehicles;

  (7) mining dunes;

  (8) constructing concrete slabs or other impervious surfaces within 200 feet landward of the line of vegetation. Local governments may authorize construction of a concrete slab or other impervious surface beneath a habitable structure elevated on pilings provided the slab will not extend beyond the perimeter of the structure and will not be structurally attached to the building's foundation. Local governments shall not authorize the construction, outside the perimeter of a habitable structure, of a concrete slab or other impervious surface whose area exceeds 5.0% of the footprint of the habitable structure. The use of permeable materials such as brick pavers, limestone, or gravel is recommended for drives or parking areas;

  (9) depositing trash, waste, or debris including inert materials such as concrete, stone, and bricks that are not part of the permitted on-site construction;

  (10) constructing cisterns, septic tanks, and septic fields seaward of any structure serviced by the cisterns, septic tanks, and septic fields; and

  (11) detonating bombs or explosives.

(d) Technical standards for local government determination as to material weakening of dunes and material damage of dune vegetation within a critical dune area or seaward of a dune protection line. A local government may approve a permit application only if it finds as a fact, after a full investigation, that the particular conduct proposed will not materially weaken any dune or materially damage dune vegetation or reduce the effectiveness of any dune as a means of protection against erosion and high wind and water. In making the finding as to whether such material weakening or material damage will occur, a local government shall use the following technical standards. Failure to meet any one of these standards will result in a finding of material weakening or material damage and the local government shall not approve the application for the construction as proposed.

  (1) The activity shall not result in the potential for increased flood damage to the proposed construction site or adjacent property.

  (2) The activity shall not result in runoff or drainage patterns that aggravate erosion on or off the site.

  (3) The activity shall not result in significant changes to dune hydrology.

  (4) The activity shall not disturb unique flora or fauna or result in adverse effects on dune complexes or dune vegetation.

  (5) The activity shall not significantly increase the potential for washovers or blowouts to occur.

(e) Local government considerations when determining whether to issue a dune protection permit. Local governments shall consider the following items and information when determining whether to grant a permit:

  (1) all comments submitted to the local government by the General Land Office;

  (2) cumulative and indirect effects of the proposed construction on all dunes and dune vegetation within critical dune areas or seaward of a dune protection line;

  (3) cumulative and indirect effects of other activities on dunes and dune vegetation located on the proposed construction site;

  (4) the pre-construction type, height, width, slope, volume, and continuity of the dunes, the pre-construction condition of the dunes, the type of dune vegetation, and percent of vegetative cover on the site;

  (5) the most recent historical erosion rate as determined by the University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, and whether the proposed construction may alter dunes and dune vegetation in a manner that may aggravate erosion;

  (6) the applicant's mitigation plan for any unavoidable adverse effects on dunes and dune vegetation and the effectiveness, feasibility, and desirability of any proposed dune reconstruction and revegetation;

  (7) the impacts on the natural drainage patterns of the site and adjacent property;

  (8) any significant environmental features of the potentially affected dunes and dune vegetation such as their value and function as floral or faunal habitat or any other benefits the dunes and dune vegetation provide to other natural resources;

  (9) wind and storm patterns including a history of washover patterns;

  (10) location of the site on the flood insurance rate map; and

  (11) success rates of dune stabilization projects in the area.

(f) Mitigation. The mitigation sequence shall be used by local governments in determining whether to issue a permit, after the determination that no material weakening of dunes or material damage to dunes or dune vegetation will occur within critical dune areas or seaward of the dune protection line. The mitigation sequence consists of the following steps: avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action; minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation; rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment; and compensating for the impact by replacing resources lost or damaged. If, for any reason, an applicant cannot demonstrate the ability to mitigate adverse effects on dunes and dune vegetation, the local government is not authorized to issue the permit. A local government shall require a permittee to use the mitigation sequence, as provided in this subsection, as a permit condition if that local government finds that an activity will result in any adverse effects on dunes or dune vegetation seaward of a dune protection line or on critical dune areas and add a permit condition that the applicant will mitigate for the adverse effects in accordance with the mitigation plan. When a mitigation plan is required, the applicant must provide landowners immediately adjacent to the tract with notice of the hearing on the permit at least 10 days prior to the hearing. Such notice to adjacent landowners may be made by sending a copy of the hearing notice by certified mail to the adjacent property owner's address listed in the county central appraisal district records.

  (1) Avoidance. Avoidance means avoiding the effect on dunes and dune vegetation altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action. Local governments shall require permittees to avoid adverse effects on dunes and dune vegetation. Local governments shall not issue a permit allowing any adverse effects on dunes and dune vegetation located in critical dune areas or seaward of the dune protection line unless the applicant proves there is no practicable alternative to the proposed activity, proposed site or proposed methods for conducting the activity, and the activity will not materially weaken the dunes or dune vegetation. Local governments shall require applicants to include information as to practicable alternatives in the permit application. Local governments shall review the permit application to determine whether the applicant has considered all practicable alternatives and whether one of the practicable alternatives would cause no adverse effects on dunes and dune vegetation than the proposed activity. Local governments shall require applicants to employ construction methods which will have no adverse effects, unless the applicant can demonstrate that the use of such methods is not practicable. Local governments shall require that permittees undertaking construction in critical dune areas or seaward of a dune protection line use the following avoidance techniques.

    (A) Routing of nonexempt pipelines. Nonexempt pipelines are any pipelines other than those subject to the exemption in §15.3(s)(2)(A) of this title (relating to Administration). Local governments shall not allow permittees to construct nonexempt pipelines within critical dune areas or seaward of a dune protection line unless there is no practicable alternative.

    (B) Location of construction and beach access. Local governments shall require permittees proposing construction seaward of dune protection lines and within critical dune areas to locate all such construction as far landward of dunes as practicable. Local governments shall not restrict construction which provides access to and from the public beach pursuant to this provision.

    (C) Location of roads. Local governments shall require permittees constructing roads parallel to beaches to locate the roads as far landward of critical dune areas as practicable and shall not allow permittees to locate such roads within 200 feet landward of the line of vegetation.

    (D) Artificial runoff channels. Local governments shall not permit construction of new artificial channels, including stormwater runoff channels, unless there is no practicable alternative.

  (2) Minimization. Minimization means minimizing effects on dunes and dune vegetation by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation. Local governments shall require that applicants minimize adverse impacts to dunes and dune vegetation by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation. If an applicant for a dune protection permit demonstrates to the local government that adverse effects on dunes or dune vegetation cannot be avoided and the activity will not materially weaken dunes and dune vegetation, the local government may issue a permit allowing the proposed alteration, provided that the permit contains a condition requiring the permittees to minimize adverse effects on dunes or dune vegetation to the greatest extent practicable.

    (A) Routing of nonexempt pipelines. Nonexempt pipelines are any pipelines other than those subject to the exemption in §15.3(s)(2)(A) of this title (relating to Administration). If a permittee demonstrates that there is no practicable alternative to crossing critical dune areas, the local government may allow a permittee to construct a pipeline across previously disturbed areas, such as blowout areas. Where use of previously disturbed areas is not practicable, the local Cont'd...

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