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SRA sets meeting for leaseback violations

12:13 AM, Feb. 24, 2012 |

Written by
Vickie Welborn

TOLEDO BEND — Tammy Celotti and boyfriend James Carter were not able to plead their eviction notice with the Sabine River Authority Board of Commissioners at Thursday’s monthly board meeting because of a misunderstanding about the process to address the public body.

But they will return March 8 when the SRA’s Leaseback and Cutting Committee convenes to solely address dozens of leaseback violations.

It’s at that time the committee wants to hear plans from campsite owners who have been put on notice that some of their renters are illegally set up on state-owned land along Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Celotti and Carter are in that group. Carter’s mobile home has been on a lot at Solan’s Camp for 20 years. But it’s the camp owner, Virginia Ferrant, who is being held responsible.

Ferrant and the owners of Shadow’s Landing, Sepulvado’s Camp and Woodruff’s Camp were given 60-day notices January to remedy the dozens of mobile homes in their camps illegally located on leaseback land.

That’s the property between the 172- and 175-foot elevation that the state leased back to the camp owners, giving them access to boat launches and the water. No permanent or inhabitable structures are to be located there because of the potential of low-level flooding and to serve as an environmental buffer.

The four camp owners are the only ones not to respond to violations first verified by the SRA in 1993. Ferrant this month issued eviction notices dated Sept. 1 to her tenants.

In other matters Thursday, the SRA board denied a group’s request for a waiver of public record fees and reinstated fees at its park sites.

On the public records request, the Toledo Bend Citizens Advisory Committee this month submitted a request for documents related to the proposed water sale to Texas that was suspended in January.

Chairman George Commons said SRA Executive Director Jim Pratt quoted the costs at $1,000 for hard copies of the 4,000 pages and $850 for electronic transfer. Pratt said the costs are in line with the SRA’s policy.

Commons sought the waiver as an act of transparency on the SRA’s part, which drew a few verbal volleys from Commissioner Ned Goodeaux, who quizzed Commons on the author and reason for the request — the latter being in violation of the state’s public records law that says the only information that can be asked of the person seeking the records is age and identification.

Goodeaux’s subsequent motion to deny the waiver received unanimous support of the panel, with Commissioner Larry Kelly abstaining.

As for the park fees, Goodeaux noted they were waived in 2001 effective at all state parks when the reservoir dropped below 166 feet.

Most of the park sites are now accessible at low levels because of the dredging that’s taken place, so upon his motion, the board voted to begin charging fees, which vary according to use, on Monday.

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