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06/07/13: Commission to consider changing rules on seaweed cleanup

GALVESTON — Sometime in the near future, the city’s planning commission will consider changing its requirements on what tools it will allow in cleaning seaweed off the beaches.

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The planning commission issues annual beach maintenance permits to homeowners associations that wish to clean seaweed off beaches in front of their properties. To receive a permit, applicants must comply with federal, state and local regulations. The regulations include rules that prevent too much sand from being removed from the beach.

During this year’s permitting process, some commissioners expressed concern that some of the tools used by contractors do not sufficiently prevent sand loss.

At Tuesday’s planning commission meeting, Chairman Joe Rozier suggested that the commission might consider banning the use of road graders and front-end loaders for seaweed removal. The planning commission intends to have a workshop, possibly during its next meeting in July, to discuss such a move.

Planning Director Rick Vasquez told the commission an alternative to creating a list of permitted equipment might be to identify approved contractors and then to supply a list to property owners.

Vazquez also said the General Land Office, which must approve the beach cleaning permits, does not specify which tools can be used to clean the beaches.

“You would actually be creating rules and regulations that go beyond what the GLO currently requires,” Vazquez said.

The Galveston Park Board of Trustees this year purchased a new device, known as a surf rake, to help remove seaweed from the beaches it maintains without removing sand. During permit hearings this year, some commissioners asked if property owners could acquire similar tools but heard complaints about availability, cost and effectiveness.

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