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LCRA backs off on lease increase for one Lake Buchanan POA

South Park boat ramp on Lake Buchanan

The public now has access to South Park and its boat ramps in Buchanan Lake Village after the LCRA terminated the land owners association's lease agreement on Sept. 30. However, the boat ramps are currently unusable due to low lake levels. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Lower Colorado River Authority will no longer charge the Buchanan Lake Village Land Owners Association for access to the lake after receiving community and media backlash over massive price increases to annual leases. 

“In the spirit of cooperation and to minimize the financial impact of a proposed rate increase, LCRA has notified the Buchanan Lake Village Land Owners Association it will terminate its lease for LCRA-owned property the association uses for two boat ramps and access to Lake Buchanan,” said LCRA Public Information Officer Clara Tuma in an email to DailyTrib.com.

South Park now will be open to the public and the land owners association will no longer be able to charge for launching boats from the two ramps. 

Lake Buchanan Village and Greenwood Acres Property Owners Association each recently received letters from the LCRA announcing huge increases in their lease agreements for lake access beginning Jan. 1, 2023. Buchanan Lake Village paid $800 a year for use of about a quarter-acre of lakefront property. The lease was going up to $4,545.

Greenwood Acres paid $100 a year for about the same amount of land. The first letter it received said the price was increasing to $5,600. The association negotiated that down to $3,400 a year. It also wants to work out an agreement with the LCRA, but not necessarily the same deal as Lake Buchanan Village.  

“We don’t want our pier that we paid good money for to be public,” said POA Treasurer Marci O’Brien. “We anticipate that we would have to pay something, but we don’t want them to just cancel our lease.”  

The LCRA seems to be of the same mindset. 

“Provisions in each lease with property owners associations are unique,” Tuma continued in her email to DailyTrib.com. “LCRA will evaluate the terms of leases with property owners associations on a case-by-case basis.”

The termination of the Lake Buchanan Village lease means the public now has unfettered access to the LCRA property and use of the boat ramps. The association was charging $5 for access to the boat ramps to mitigate the costs of maintaining the park, which comes out to an estimated $2,000 a year. However, the ramps are currently unusable due to low lake levels.

The $800 lease for Lake Buchanan Village was set in 2017. A provision in the agreement allowed the LCRA to adjust the price every five years. 

The more-than-500-percent increase came as a shocker. 

“Jumping all the way to $4,500, that seems excessive,” said Theo Van Eeten, a Buchanan Lake Village LOA board member.

When asked about the jump, the LCRA replied that a board policy requires the authority to incorporate market rental values into all lease agreements. 

“We are aware that moving leases to full market rental value in a single year could create issues for lessees, particularly given the significant increases in land values in the area over the last few years,” Tuma said in an email. 

Van Eeten contacted the LCRA after first receiving notice of the impending price jump but said he received no solid answers as to why the increase was so great. He then contacted several local news outlets. 

The next step was to form the Lake Buchanan Communities Alliance with the intention of uniting lake-area property owners associations in negotiations with the LCRA. Dozens of representatives from area POAs attended the formation meeting on Sept. 22

According to Van Eeten, the combination of community collaboration and concentrated media coverage led to the LCRA’s decision.

Buchanan Lake Village received a letter from the LCRA on Sept. 30 stating that its lease agreement was being terminated effective Oct. 30.

To join the Lake Buchanan Communities Alliance, contact 512-775-3689, 512-769-3872, or info@lb-ca.org.

dakota@thepicayune.com