Christian claims victory for property rights; Patterson disagrees

By Jeff Awtrey - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - State Rep. Wayne Christian issued a statement declaring victory for property rights on the Bolivar Peninsula, but Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson issued a counterstatement saying Christian was not aware of the law.

According to Texas state law, homes may not be built in front of a natural line of vegetation, as it is part of public beach property. After Hurricane Ike ravaged beaches, the line of vegetation was undetermined. Patterson established a line 4.5 feet above sea level as a temporary permitting line.

In the state Legislative session, Christian pushed for the passage of House Bill 770, which allowed Bolivar Peninsula residents to rebuild on their property. Patterson spoke against the law, which was passed by Gov. Rick Perry without his signature.

Since that controversy, Patterson has pushed the public beach line back to the original spot, which Christian praised Monday.

"I am pleased that after reviewing the situation, Commissioner Patterson has agreed with the Texas Legislature and the Governor to give these devastated residents basic direction in how to proceed with rebuilding their community," Christian stated. "I have been an outspoken advocate for the expedited recovery of this area and appreciate the General Land Office for addressing this issue."

Tuesday, Patterson answered Christian's statement.

"It's clear that Wayne still doesn't understand the Texas Open Beaches Act. I hope he takes advantage of to get better informed of his rights and responsibilities," Patterson said. "According to Wayne's press release, 'if a new vegetation line crossed any part of a private citizens' property, the government was able to seize the entire piece of land.' That wasn't true before Ike hit and it's not true now. The line of vegetation doesn't affect ownership and it never has.  I'm not agreeing with Wayne on anything, I'm simply following the Texas Open Beaches Act, something that anyone who has read the law would understand."

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