The Texas General Land Office (GLO) has adopted emergency rules that enable coastal counties and municipalities affected by Hurricane Harvey to expedite the beachfront construction and dune protection permitting process.
Specifically, 31 Texas Administrative Code Section 15.18 (Emergency Provisions for Stabilization and Repair of Damaged Habitable Structure) authorizes certain activities necessary for the immediate stabilization and repair of habitable structures. Section 15.19 (Emergency Measures for Dune Restoration) allows the authorization of dune restoration following a storm. The rules proposed are in response to the danger to public health, safety, and welfare caused by the widespread damage to structures and dunes along the Texas Coast.
The emergency rules provide local governments in Nueces, Matagorda, Brazoria, and Galveston Counties with the ability authorize emergency repairs to habitable structures outside the standard beachfront construction and dune protection permitting process, which normally requires GLO review. Under the emergency rules, local governments are required to maintain a written record of the authorizations, which are valid for 6 months from issuance.
Both rules allow the authorization of certain activities and have prohibitions on what is allowed. The emergency rules will be effective for 120 days from September 5, 2017 and may be extended once by the GLO for not longer than 60 days.
In an effort to assist homeowners on the coast with immediate repair and clean-up activities due to damages from Hurricane Harvey, the emergency rules:
- Allow homeowners to undertake emergency stabilization and repair of a home to prevent further damage;
- Allow the repair of damaged enclosed spaces with breakaway or louvered walls at ground level for homes in order to allow homeowners to secure personal property;
- Allow homeowners to repair a pre-existing retaining wall that is in danger of imminent collapse, and;
- Allow homeowners to restore dunes to minimize further threat or damage to coastal residents and littoral property.
New construction and activities not described in the rules will be required to go through the standard permitting process.