City seals deal on lake coalition

August 24, 2013

Much of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Granbury City Council had to do with the lake, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

In the end – and to the relief of members of the Lake Granbury Waterfront Owners Association and Friends who were in the audience – the council voted to share costs involved in hiring the Haynes and Boone law firm, agreed to form the Lake Granbury Coalition, appointed two of its members to serve on a coalition subcommittee and approved the opening of a checking account for donations to the coalition.

Concerns raised by council member Mickey Parson and his seeming lukewarm feelings about the law firm that other officials and residents have been eager to hire clearly angered some LGWOA members. They had come to the meeting out of an expectation that the coalition plan between the city, county and the LGWOA would be finalized by council votes and would move forward.

Time was of the essence because of a hearing in Austin on Monday involving the Brazos River Authority’s request to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for additional water rights. The hearing is to determine who in the Brazos River Basin will have party status in the permitting process.

Each of the three entities that make up the Lake Granbury Coalition will be contributing $100,000 toward legal fees for Haynes and Boone, with any additional costs also being equally shared.

Among Parson’s concerns was that, even though Haynes and Boone attorneys have handled cases involving the BRA and the TCEQ, “they have no water rights experience.”

He also noted that the city has spent money on water rights attorney Ken Ramirez – who will continue to work with the city – as well as for the services of a hydrologist.

He said he believes that Ramirez can handle Monday’s hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) well enough without the Coalition having to pay fees to Haynes and Boone attorneys whose services in the BRA fight might be better utilized another way.

“This thing just keeps getting put off and put off and put off,”
said council member Tony Allen. He told Parson that he should have brought the issues up for discussion sooner.

Joe Williams, president of the LGWOA, said that he and other members were taken by surprise by Parson’s list of concerns and recommendations because they had spoken to him previously and thought that everything was a go.

“Councilman Parson did have legitimate questions, but these questions should have been brought up several weeks ago,” Williams said.

Parson said Thursday that he had not been of the opinion that all of the issues had been worked out, but stated: “I voted in the affirmative, and we’re moving forward.”

Williams did say that he has no problem with the fact that the council appointed Parson to be one of two council members to serve on the coalition subcommittee that will work with Haynes and Boone and report back to the three entities that make up the coalition.

“Mickey’s a smart man,” Williams said.

The other city representative on the subcommittee will be Gary Couch.

Regarding the hearing in Austin on Monday, the BRA issued this statement to the Hood County News:

“The state’s practice for hearing all parties in the water permit process is fair and open to all concerned citizens. The BRA has no objection to the organizations in Granbury asserting their concerns to the SOAH judges as part of the hearing process.”

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