Dozens of People Protest Proposed Access Limits to Canyon Lake | Community alert

After dozens of county residents complained about the proposed changes to access to Canyon Lake at the commissioner’s court meeting on Thursday, Comal County leaders filed a final decision for two more weeks.

“We want to know more about how we can improve them,” County Judge Sherman Krause said of updated parking and traffic regulations on the nine managed boat launches. by the county for the first time since 1994.

Court attorney Tillman Roots described changes that ban business notices, signs and advertisements; prohibit solicitations; and stroll and fish in the county’s boat launch areas. Roots said people who fail to comply with the rules and regulations may be removed from boat launch areas and towed vehicles at the owner’s expense.

Krause said most of the changes were already in the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority’s safety rules for the lake, but were not incorporated into the county’s 27-year-old version.

“For years we have followed GBRA safety rules on Canyon Lake regarding swimming from boat launches or floating docks,” Roots said. “Our law enforcement agencies have always had the ability to enforce the GBRA ordinance, which is now incorporated into our ordinance so that there is no confusion. “

Most were opposed to at least one of the changes, such as section 3, paragraph 5, which prohibits the use of ramp areas to gain access to “private or US Army Corps of Engineers property.” Others cited section 5.02A, which specified offenses for vehicles parked in designated trailer parking areas, or not in the process of launching and retrieving a boat.

Nineteen spoke at a public hearing – many urging the county to form a commission to study the changes – before the commissioners, in the absence of Precinct 3’s Kevin Webb, voted on the changes until at their June 24 meeting.

“Obviously, there are times when committees are good,” Krause said. “In that case, with summer approaching and the 4th of July weekend approaching, that might not give us enough time to prepare one.

“We would spend an extra week for the Commissioners Tribunal to take action. Rather than wasting this week having a workshop or several weeks over several workshops, we think it is better to get this input from the public – which is always welcome – and have a vote in a few weeks.

Many agencies involved

A boat pulls away from boat launch # 1 at Canyon Lake on Monday, April 12, 2021. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

Several entities have governed or have operational responsibilities for Canyon Lake since its inception in the mid-1960s. The GBRA holds water rights and dictates most water rules. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manages the Canyon Reservoir Flood Control Pool and rents boat launching ramps from Comal County.

The Comal County Water-Based Recreation District, formed in 1989, collects user fees from guests visiting the district and funds and oversees Canyon and Comal Parks, both leased by USACE. Deputies from the Comal County Sheriff’s Office, county police officers, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are responsible for law enforcement.

USACE did not return calls for comment Thursday, with representatives of the others officially and unofficially admitting confusion over who sets and enforces the rules on Canyon Lake.

“Some of the perceived changes discussed this morning are in effect from the original county ordinance and through the GBRA ordinance (before that),” Krause said. “The county is only highlighting things like the GBRA’s swim ban mandate.

“The idea is to allow the police to better understand that the rule is in place and that they have the power to enforce this rule. Some other things, like parking rules, are also in effect.

“We’ve heard a lot of talk about the changes, which really aren’t changes at all. They simply allow the police to clarify these rules during application. “

“Draconian” ordinance

Canyon Lake Boat Ramp

Cars and boats fill the parking lot at Canyon Lake Boat Ramp No.1 on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

Canyon Lake resident Mark Robinson said all residents of county properties pay taxes – directly or indirectly – which are used to maintain county services, such as the nine public boat launches. . He said those who pay WORD and county taxes would be denied access to the lake because of the pedestrian and vehicle bans contained in the new ordinance.

“This proposed ordinance is draconian – far too restrictive and unconstitutional in its treatment of one class of citizens over another,” he said. “Whether intentional or not, the consequences of this proposed ordinance unreasonably restrict access to public waterways and provide compelling evidence of the progressive erosion of individual freedoms. “

Owners of kayaks without trailers were upset that they could not park in spaces reserved for vehicles with trailers. The swimmers were upset because without the public easement, they would have to cross Corps property or private property to physically enter the lake.

The grandparents were upset for obvious reasons.

“I’ll be damned if you tell me I can’t go fishing with my grandsons,” one man said.

“This proposed ordinance effectively creates two categories of citizens with respect to access and use of Canyon Lake – which is a public waterway funded by taxpayers,” Robinson said.

“A class of those lucky enough to own waterfront property and boats… who will continue to enjoy free and unlimited access to Canyon Lake.” The other class (who will pay) has access to (specific times) limited by federal or county supervision.

Problems that multiply

Canyon Lake Boat Ramp

A boat pulls away from boat launch # 1 at Canyon Lake on Monday, April 12, 2021. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

District 1 Commissioner Donna Eccleston read a letter from a resident near Boat Launch 1, by far the ramp with the biggest parking problems and rowdy behavior. The letter berated law enforcement for failing to enforce existing rules, non-enforcement of illegally parked boats and trailers, and incursions by those seeking relief on private property.

“We have all of this going on and more,” Eccleston said, adding that law enforcement had asked to change the current rules, which lacked specificity and clarity.

“When these areas were handed over to the county in the 1960s, they weren’t designed with the future we now have in mind – that was the furthest thing from that,” she said. .

“The county has maintained these ramps, some for almost 60 years, and every year we see an increase in illegal behavior. And it is not clear to families who are trying to use these facilities properly.

Eccleston said the number of existing parking spaces at Boat Ramp 1 and other ramps is strictly controlled by the Corps of Engineers.

“There is no way for us to increase them for additional parking – that doesn’t exist,” she said.

Krause said the Corps rules outlining the number of parking spaces available on its ramps were likely in place to regulate the number of ships entering the lake.

“It’s how the Corps controls the numbers on the lake at all times,” he said. “It may have worked at one point, but not anymore due to the number of people accessing the lake.”

Krause said that was exactly why the county was looking for more contributions from the public – just in a shorter amount of time. Eccleston said Thursday afternoon that she hopes to hold those meetings next week.

“There are a lot of misconceptions out there, like the one that believes we can generate parking the way we want,” she said. “But we need people to be safe, and we need to give law enforcement the tools they need to protect the citizens of Comal County so everyone can continue to have a good time on Canyon. Lake. ”