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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 5, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY June 5, 2001 12 pages in 2 sections ___    MM*    12    pages    in    2    seemHerald-Z eitung Vol. 150, No. 176Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 ..... . - 50 centsPlanning director calling it quits in New Braunfels By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer The third city employee in as many months will leave New Braunfels on June 15 after planning director Harry Bennett resigned Monday. Bennett’s resignation follows the exit of city attorney Floyd Akers and ousted city engineer C.A. Bolner, both of whom left New Braunfels in March. City Manager Mike Shands fired Bolner, and Akers resigned to take a position as municipal judge in Bryan, Texas. “I am going to be pursuing other interests,” Bennett said from his office Monday afternoon. “I’m going to be doing some consulting work. It’s something my family and I have discussed for quite some time — ventures I can’t do here because it interferes with the work.” Bennett plans to start consulting with his son. “We’re looking at other avenues right now,” Bennett said. “I can make calls on my own and come and go as I please. Exploring those avenues doesn’t make the time seem as long, when you’re doing it for yourself.” Bennett said he appreciated the opportunity to work with the city. “There are some faces I’ll miss, but you’ll still see me around,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed working here.” Bennett has been planning director for New Braunfels for nearly five years. Mayor Stoney Williams said Bennett had done a good job for the city. ‘It’s a shame he’s leaving,” he said. ‘I think he’s done an excellent job for the city. I’m really sorry to see him go.” The city manager plans to start advertising for a new planning direc tor by the end of this week. Bennett’s salary is set at $55,442, Chief Finance Officer Chet Lewis said. Shands said, ‘We don’t have any firm dates yet. We’re going to try to move fairly quickly. We definitely will have someone by the end of the month.” Shands said that he too was sorry to see Bennett leave.See DIRECTOR/5A Legal challenges New city attorney settles in with trying times ahead CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung New City Attorney Charlie Zech sits in his chair in the city council chambers Monday afternoon at the New Braunfels Municipal Building. Zech started work for the city on Monday. By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer Charlie Zech welcomes challenges. And as the new city attorney for New Braunfels, he already faces one challenge — overcoming the narrow city council vote that earned him the job. New Braunfels has been without a city attorney since Floyd Akers left to become municipal judge in Bryan. Zech was one of three finalists to replace Akers and received the majority of council votes this past week to earn him the new position. Four council members — Mayor Stoney Williams, Mayor Pro Tem Lee Rodriguez, Larry Alexander and Sonia Munoz — voted in favor of hiring Zech. Three council members — Robert Kendrick, Juliet Watson and Debbie Flume — voted against hiring him. “I have confidence in my abilities,” Zech said, in an interview from his Universal City home. “And I have no concerns about how to do the job right.” Zech started in New Braunfels 'What (Charlie Zech) said in his interviews was very impressive. I just question that he can answer the questions that come up daily as quickly as we need them answered. ” — Robert Kendrick District 4 Councilman Monday and said he gradually would dissolve his private practice. He’s convinced that he will overcome the doubts about his ability to perform as city attorney. “In law school, they don’t teach specific law,” he said. “You don’t major in municipal law or trial law. You learn the law in general, and they teach you how to research and analyze so you can answer ques tions about any sort of law.” The council members who voted against him expressed concerns that Zech lacks the municipal experience to serve as city attorney. “I was impressed that he appeared to be a quick study,” Kendrick said. “But there are issues that we can’t always wait to research. I want him to be successful. I want him to do well. What he said in his interviews was very impressive. I just question that he can answer the questions that come up daily as quickly as we need them answered.” Zech has his support as the new attorney, Kendrick said. “I think everybody should support the people who are hired,” he said. “I think we should have reopened the process to new applicants.” But Williams said he is confident that Zech can do the job. He said the new city attorney would be able to provide legal advice to the council with little trouble. “I think he gave the best inter- See ATTORNEY/3 A Lake group asks TNRCC to reconsider By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer In an effort to continue fighting a proposal to take more water from Canyon Lake, a group filed a legal motion with the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission, asking to be granted party status with the TNRCC. Known as Friends of Canyon Lake, the group charges improprieties in the application process by WEST    both the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority and the TNRCC. “We’re going to go through the administrative process,” said John Parker, executive director of Friends of Canyon Lake. “Then, if the TNRCC fails to reconsider giving us a contested case hearing and granting us affected party status, then we’ll pursue other legal routes.” Parker’s group must be granted affected party status in order to participate in the evidentiary hearing process, if the TNRCC does not grant the GBRA’s permit request on June 20. TTie TNRCC can send the case to a contested case hearing — a process that might take two years — or approve the permit amendment. The GBRA wants to increase the amount of water taken out of Canyon Lake to 90,000 acre-feet. The current permit only allows GBRA to sell 50,000 acre-feet. A single acre-foot is 325,900 gallons. "The GBRA has said the water is needed for people in newly developed areas, such as Bulverde, Boerne and Fair Oaks Ranch. While the GBRA has said the permit would not affect the lake, several groups opposed to the permit request appeared at the TNRCC Project manager: Send request to hearing By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer A former staff member and water rights expert at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission says the permit request to take more water from Canyon Lake should go to a contested case hearing. Terry Slade used to be the project manager for the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority’s permit request to increase the amount of water it takes from Canyon Lake. Before he retired this past year, Slade spent months working on the permit request. “I know this thing inside and out, and I’m concerned. This application is not like anything else I’ve worked on. And I worked on permit applications for 28 years,” he said. Slade now works as an independent water-rights consultant. An attorney representing the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited, Stuart Henry, asked Slade to See REQUEST/3A hearing May 9. Only the Guadalupe River Trout Association was considered to be affected by the permit, and the TNRCC commissioners did not grant the organization party status. Instead, the commissioners asked the two groups — GBRA and GRTU — to try to negotiate a compromise. Friends of Canyon Lake See TNRCC/5A Comptroller comes to town From Staff Reports State Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander will speak during a fund-raiser today for a playground at McKenna Memorial Hospital. A group of high school students from Canyon and New Braunfels high schools, called Kids United For Kids, is hosting a steak dinner at 6 p.m. today at the New Braunfels Civic Center. Money earned will go toward construction of a play ground for children at the hospital, and the group hopes to raise $11,500 of the neces-s a r y $31,500 for the project. Tickets to today’s event are available at the door for $40. Call 606-2180 for ticket information. RYLANDER Inside Abby...............................4B Classifieds.......................5-6B Comics..............................3B Crossword........................5A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies.................................5A Obituaries...........................3A Sports...........................1-2B Today.................................2A Key Code 76 Troopers checking safety of semis From Staff Reports Semi drivers who cook logbooks, run heavy or otherwise skirt the highway laws should be on their best behavior during the next couple of days. Highway safety in Texas will get an extra boost today through Thursday when Texas Department of Public Safety troopers participate in Roadcheck 2001, a 72-hour intensive commercial vehicle inspection program. DPS License and Weight troopers will stop commercial vehicles to inspect safety equipment, as well as check driver licenses and endorsements. ‘Tbxas has the highest number of fatalities involving commercial vehicles in the nation,” said Chief Charles Graham, head of Traffic Law Enforcement for DPS. “We want to take advantage of this enforcement initiative to make an impact on truck safety in Texas.” Drivers and vehicles passing inspection receive a decal exempting the vehicle from inspection for a 90-day period, unless they have an obvious safety defect. Sgt. Rene Garza of the San Antonio DPS office License and Weight division said checkpoints would be in operation along Interstate 35 in San Marcos and Medina County. ;