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LCRA seeks input on marina ordinance

Lake Front Condos marina, Granite Shoals, Texas

The Lake LBJ community marina at Lake Front Condos on Highcrest Drive in Granite Shoals. The Lower Colorado River Authority encouraged community marinas to dissuade the building of individual docks. The plan hasn’t worked, and the authority is proposing to ban future community marinas as part of its new Highland Lakes Marina Ordinance. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

The Lower Colorado River Authority is asking for public input on substantial changes to its Highland Lakes Marina Ordinance, which includes banning future community marinas, giving marinas a two-year time limit to eliminate all exposed unencapsulated foam, and standardizing permit fees for marinas on five Highland Lakes.

Comments on proposed changes can be submitted through March 31 at or made during a public meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at the LCRA Redbud Center, 3601 Redbud Trail in Austin. No presentation will be made; the meeting is for public comment only. 

This will be the first significant ordinance update in 22 years, according to an LCRA spokesperson.

“The proposed changes would affect new marina applications and existing marinas planning to make changes to their facilities,” the spokesperson said in an email response to questions. “The proposed new fees would affect all new and existing marinas.”

One of the biggest changes is a move to ban new community marinas on any of the lakes in the Highland Lakes chain. 

The LCRA Board of Directors approved a 12-month moratorium on new community marinas in August 2022. The moratorium applied to 13 community marinas in the Highland Lakes. 

Community marinas were intended to dissuade the proliferation of individual residential boat docks along the shoreline by providing one central place in a community to dock watercraft. This is especially important in coves to maintain navigability, the LCRA said. 

The policy did not work. 

“Some coves with community marinas still are experiencing the proliferation of residential docks along shorelines,” the LCRA said. “As community marinas are largely not serving their intended purpose, LCRA is proposing to stop approving community marinas in the future.”

Existing community marinas now will be required to pay an application fee of $500 or $1,000, depending on size, for any changes that require a permit. This does not include maintenance. 

The new ordinance and fee schedule are available online. Other major changes include: 

  • Existing marina facilities will have to get rid of any non-encapsulated flotation materials within two years of when the board approves the new marina ordinance. New marinas will have to use encapsulated flotation materials that do not deteriorate or decompose and impact water quality.
  • Filing fees for marinas now will be uniform on lakes Travis, Marble Falls, LBJ, Inks, and Buchanan. Currently, Travis marinas are calculated with a different fee schedule. Now, all five lakes will use the same schedule as Lake Travis.
  • Annual permit fees will increase to 15 cents per square-foot from 8 cents per square-foot for the first 10,000 square-feet. Over 10,000 square-feet, the amount increases to 42 cents per square-foot from 23 cents per square-foot. 

“The current fees (8 cents and 23 cents) were set back in 2001 and have not been adjusted since,” the LCRA said in its email response to questions.

Currently, the LCRA has 147 permitted marina facilities on its lakes.