Texas Water Code

Sec. § 61.116
Lease of State Owned Lands and Flats


Any district organized under this chapter or any special law or any general law under which navigation districts may be created may apply for a lease from the State of Texas of the surface estate of any lands and flats belonging to the state which are covered or partly covered by the water of any of the bays or other arms of the sea; however, any navigation district created after the effective date of this Act may not lease the surface estate of any such lands or flats which are located within 10 miles of the boundary of any navigation district in existence on the effective date of this Act, without first receiving the written approval of the district now in existence. The words “navigation district,” “district,” or “districts” as used in Sections 61.116 (Lease of State Owned Lands and Flats), 61.117 (Limitations on Sales and Use of State Lands and Flats), and 60.038 (Sale or Lease of Land) of the Texas Water Code shall apply to any incorporated city in this state which owns and operates wharves, docks, and other marine port facilities.


The state, through the School Land Board, may lease these state owned lands or flats to eligible navigation districts only for purposes reasonably related to the promotion of navigation. The term “navigation” as used herein refers to marine commerce and immediately related activities, including but not limited to port development; channel construction and maintenance; commercial and sport fishing; recreational boating; industrial site locations; transportation, shipping, and storage facilities; pollution abatement facilities; and all other activities necessary or appropriate to the promotion of marine commerce; but specifically does not refer to residential development.


In making application for a lease of state owned lands or flats, the district shall include the following information:


a description of the lands or flats sought to be leased;


a plan showing how it proposes to utilize the land and a timetable indicating approximately when such utilization will take place;


a draft environmental impact statement assessing the effect of the proposed use on the environment, which statement shall generally conform to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, until such time as the legislature shall impose different requirements; however, a draft environmental impact statement shall not be required if the proposed use requires no dredging, filling, or bulkheading. If the proposed use does require dredging, filling, or bulkheading, but the lease shall be processed as provided in Subsections (d), (e), and (f) of this section without the filing of a draft environmental impact statement if the applicant so requests in writing; but in such a case, the School Land Board shall include in the lease provisions requiring (i) that the draft environmental impact statement required by federal law be filed with the School Land Board before the district makes any use of such lands or flats which requires dredging, filling, or bulkheading; (ii) that approval of such use be obtained from the School Land Board after copies of the summary of the draft environmental impact statement and a description of the proposed use are circulated for comment and a hearing held as provided in Subsections (d) and (e) of this section and the School Land Board shall be authorized to give its approval to make such amendments to the lease as may then be deemed necessary by it as a result of information developed in the draft environmental impact statement; and (iii) that the lease shall cease to be effective at a time specifically stated in the lease unless prior to that time accord concerning environmental issues has been reached between the district and the School Land Board;


proof satisfactory to the board establishing the public convenience and necessity for acquisition of lands sought to be leased.


Upon receipt of an application and accompanying information, the School Land Board shall submit copies thereof to the member agencies of the Interagency Council on Natural Resources and the Environment and all other appropriate state agencies for review and comment. In addition, the board shall submit for review and comment the proposed terms and conditions of the lease. The board shall allow 30 days for such review and comment, and may extend the review period for an additional 30 days upon written request by the executive director of any state agency.


Following the expiration of the period provided for review and comment, or following the expiration of the 30 day extension of such period, if applicable, the School Land Board shall cause a hearing to be held in the county in which the land proposed to be leased is located. Notice of the hearing shall be given by publication for at least three days, not less than two weeks nor more than four weeks prior to the hearing, in the daily paper having the greatest circulation in the county. Members of the board or their designated representatives shall conduct the hearing, at which any party may offer testimony in support of or in opposition to the application, and the board shall consider the record of the hearing in making a decision on the application.


After submission of all evidence, the School Land Board shall authorize the issuance or denial of the proposed lease and shall determine the reasonable cost to the district, term of years, special limitations, if any, and other conditions necessary to best serve the interest of the general public. In establishing the consideration to be paid to the state for the lease, due weight shall be given to the depth of the water over the submerged land, its proximity to development activities, and its proposed use. Final action shall be taken by the board no more than 60 days following the public hearing.


The funds derived from the lease shall be paid to the General Land Office for transfer to the proper funds of the state.


Districts may sublease lands leased from the state under the provisions of this section to third parties for activities reasonably related to navigation, but such sublease shall be subject to the approval of the School Land Board according to the procedures, requirements, and criteria set forth in Subsections (c) and (d) of Section 61.116 (Lease of State Owned Lands and Flats) of this code; provided, however, that no approval by the School Land Board shall be required if the sublease is for a purpose contemplated by the district and approved by the board in the district’s original lease. It is further provided that no environmental impact statement shall ever be necessary for any sublease which requires no dredging, filling, or bulkheading, and which would not have a substantial impact upon the environment, or which requires only insubstantial dredging, filling, or bulkheading, as determined by the board; nor shall a district in obtaining approval for a sublease under any circumstances be required to reveal the name of the tenant to whom the sublease is to be made.


If lands or flats leased from the state under the provisions of this section are utilized by the district or its sublessee for any purpose or use not approved by the School Land Board, the district shall be given notice and an opportunity to change and correct the use. If the use is not changed and corrected within a reasonable time after receipt of such notice, the lease may be terminated by the School Land Board and the lands or flats shall revert to the State of Texas.
Acts 1971, 62nd Leg., p. 110, ch. 58, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1971. Amended by Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 553, ch. 237, Sec. 1, eff. June 11, 1973; Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 801, ch. 310, Sec. 2, eff. May 27, 1975.

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Jun. 7, 2021