New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 17, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas
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LEISURE This Week
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Visit Pecos, the birthplace of rodeo/lnside
SUNDAY June 17, 2001
30 pages in 4 sections
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Vol. 150 No. 187
Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852
Some fault city attorney in open meetings question
New Braunfels has contracted to buy this property at Torrey Street and Gruene Road
By Ron Maloney
Some New Braunfels City Council members are pointing the finger at new city attorney Charlie Zech after they signed a contract and spent money to buy land behind closed doors.
Open government advocates said the city council apparently violated state law regarding how governing bodies conduct business when it authorized City Manager Mike Shands to sign the agreement without first discussing and acting on
the issue in public.
The contract for the land was signed June 4.
Councilmembers Debbie Flume and Robert Kendrick said they would accept responsibility if it turns out council was wrong in authorizing Shands to sign the agreement without taking public action on it.
But they said Zech should have told them a mistake had been made in a June ll closed session, when the contract was discussed. Zech could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Councilman Lee Rodriguez said he believed the city attorney had nothing to do with the contract and suggested the other two were taking a “poke” at Zech because they opposed hiring him.
Zech recently was hired to replace former city attorney Floyd Akers, who became municipal judge in Bryan. Council hired Zech in a 4-3 vote. Kendrick, Flume and Councilwoman Juliet Watson voted against hiring Zech.
Zech started his job the same day Shands signed the agreement — a
week before the executive session mentioned by Kendrick and Flume.
The Herald-Zeitung could not reach Shands, Zech, Mayor Stoney Williams and councilmembers Sonia Munoz or Watson on Saturday.
The contract is a $170,000 offer to buy more than 5 acres of land at Tbrrey Street and Gruene Road from Howard and Yasuko Wimberley.
The tree-shaded grassy tract, which includes a commercial building at 776 E. Torrey St., would become a city park.See FAULT/5A
Studies planned for dam sites
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
County commissioners Thursday unanimously voted to spend $18,000 to pay a consultant to do environmental and archeological surveys on sites for what could become the first of a series of new flood control dams.
The money will pay for studies for a pair of possible dam sites — one in the Dry Comal Creek watershed and the other on the Guadalupe River in the Devil’s Backbone area.
The studies must be completed in August to enable Comal County to qualify for $4.8 million in funding authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Texas Department of Emergency Management to pay for flood control structures.
County Engineer Tom Homseth, who has been meeting with state and federal officials about the proposed local flood control projects, said the DEM could dedicate even more money — as much as $11 million, altogether.
“The county has met most of the requirements,” Homseth told commissioners at court on Thursday. “FEMA requires environmental and archeological assessments. We have to complete them in order to move forward. We’re under a tight timeframe and we want to keep this thing going.”See STUDIES/4A
Trou bled waters:
Key Code 77
GBRA: Permit amendment part of water planning
By Ron Maloney and Amy Clarkson
The years-old plan by the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority to increase the amount of water its takes from Canyon Lake is a cornerstone of both Region L and the state’s plans for the next 50 years, GBRA officials say.
And efforts to derail the permit amendment — which increases the diversion of stored water from
50.000 acre-feet to 90,000 acre-feet — can only harm the future water plans for the entire state, GBRA General Manager Bill West said. GBRA plans to use much of the water to serve parched areas in western Comal County, Kendall County and Kerr County.
“This permit amendment is considered one of the most expedient that could be implemented. It is one of the most widely recognized as the most efficient use of this resource,” West said. “It is the litmus test for the Region L and statewide plans.”
With these plans, the
40.000 acre-feet of water at stake is far more than a drop in the bucket when it comes to the needs of Central Texas — it’s enough water to annually meet the needs of 160,000 people — more than two Comal counties at the population of the 2000 census.
GBRA officials say this plan could end years of legal wrangling over water across the state.
“So much is at stake,” West said. “We all share resources, and we’ve spent the years coming up with solutions to the drought ofSee PLANNING/12A
Waging War Over Water A Series Today
Friends of Canyon Lake GBRA responds Lawmakers on the issue
Above, Bob Wickman, from left, Dianne Hughes, Hank Henley, Sue Workman, Everett Deschner and John Parker comprise the Friends of Canyon Lake executive committee. The group has concerns about a proposal by the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority to take more water from Canyon Lake. Below, children play in Canyon Lake.
Canyon Lake proposal nets support from different areas
By Ron Maloney
When the Friends of Canyon Lake go to Austin Wednesday to find out if the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission allows the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority to draw an additional 40,000 acre-feet per year from the reservoir, they’ll be latecomers in a permitting process that goes back years.
The permit amendment is a cornerstone of the Region L Plan, which is the local part of the statewide water plan mandated under 1997s Omnibus Water Bill, known as Senate Bill I, to meet the water needs of Texans for the next 50 years.
The Friends of Canyon Lake aren’t just fighting the GBRA, the state agency responsible for shepherding this basin’s water resources.
They’ll also be swimming against a current of support for the project that starts in the Texas Legislature and runs to Canyon Lake and New Braunfels.
Support for the plan isn’t limited to the GBRA. It includes TNRCC and Tfexas Parks and Wildlife Department staff who were involved in the permit amendment drafting process — and recommend its approval, local officials who were involved in the meetings and hearings and the people who run the two largest water utilities in Comal County.
In letters to the TNRCC displayed on the GBRAs Web site, www.gbra.org, a number of legislators — including all who rep
resent Comal County — support the amendment application.
Sen. Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, whose District 18 stretches from Victoria to Guadalupe counties and includes all or part of 18 others, supports the application in his May 2 letter to TNRCC Chief Clerk La Donna Castanuela.
‘This will allow (the GBRA) to deliver a key component in the Region L Water plan and help solve the water shortage problem in San Antonio and parts of the hill country,” he wrote.
District 46 Rep. Rick Green, R-Dripping Springs, cited in his April 23 letter to the TNRCC “deep concern regarding the demands being placed on limited water resources.. .especially underground aquifers.”
“This additional firm surface water supply is...the source for several pending regional water supply projects including Hays County, and is critical to meeting the current and future needs of this region,” Green wrote in supporting the application.
State Sen Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, and state representatives Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin, Harvey Hilderbran, R- Ken Ville, and Judy Hawley, D-Portland, signed a joint letter on March 29 supporting the application.
“The GBRA application has received thorough administrative and technical reviews by the TNRCC staff. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was also involved in that review to be sure that the amendment
Proposal stirs up differing opinions
Friends of Canyon Lake ready to fight
By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer
Canyon Lake has friends. And these friends aren’t afraid to use legal actions, petitions, advertisements, brochures, presentations or any other method to fight what they view as a direct assault on the lake.
Friends of Canyon Lake formed in the past six weeks in response to a permit amendment by GBRA to take more water from the lake. GBRA wants to increase the firm yield of the lake to 90,000 acre-feet, up from 50,000 acre-feet. A single acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons.
“We are very sincere, very passionate,” Board Member Bob Wickman said. ‘We believe this permit may be dangerous for the lake and for the economy of Comal County.”
Complete with funding, an executive board and a team of attorneys, Friends of Canyon Lake hopes to persuade the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to change its mind — and grant the group party standing in a contested case hearing about the permit amendment. The TNRCC com-See FRIENDS/3ATNRCC
■ WHO: Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
■ WHAT: meeting to decide fate of permit amendment to take more water from Canyon Lake
■ WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday
■ WHERE: Building E, second floor conference room in TNRCC offices in Austin.
■ DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 35 North through Austin. Take the Yager Lane exit and go to the light. Turn left and go over Interstate 35 to the southbound access road. Park 35 is the main building to the TNRCC. Take a right into the main road and go down to the parking bt.
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