c ‘LI OBSERVER A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South E-10 Sept. 21, 1973 In search of a land use policy Austin You wouldn’t expect the man reputed to be the largest landholder in Texas to be terribly keen on government land management, even if the landowner is also the governor. Dolph Briscoe hasn’t said anything one way or the other on the subject of land use, so it’s safe to assume that a land regulation program is not one of his top gubernatorial priorities. On the other hand, he’s rather sensitive about his reputation as a land and cattle baron and his staff is anxious to convey the message that the governor has an open mind on the subject. He is definitely not, they say, absolutely not sitting on Texas Land Use, an eight-volume study completed this spring. The study was funded by a $99,500 federal Housing and Urban Development grant during Gov. Preston Smith’s last term of office. To head the study, Smith appointed Ron Jones, a former director of comprehensive planning for the Parks and Wildlife Department who now is in the research business as president of Research and Planning Consultants, Inc., of Austin. The study was done between November, 1972, and March, 1973. HUD received its preliminary draft May. 1. Meanwhile, in Briscoe’s offices, the executive and summary reports were packaged and addressed but never mailed. Now, with fall approaching, only a few “technical” portions of the report are being printed, according to Charles Purnell, Briscoe’s chief aide. The rest is still in the “preliminary draft” stage. WHY THE delay? Both Purnell and Bob Hardesty, the governor’s press secretary, point out that the report is mammoth and complex. “The governor’s still looking at it from a study point of view,” Hardesty said. “It’s being reviewed,” Purnell explained. They both assured the Observer that Texas Land Use will be released. “Under the federal grant it’s got to be released,” Hardesty said. There’s a rumor ’round the capitol that Briscoe might attach a disclaimer to the report, but Purnell says not to “expect” one. “I just don’t know what he would disclaim,” he insisted. Disclaimer or not, land use is a subject that Texas will have to cope with in the very near future. Hawaii, Vermont, Colorado, Maine, Florida, Washington and Minnesota all have land resource management programs of some sort. And some coastal states have adopted coastal zone restrictions. Delaware, for example, has banned all heavy industry. within two miles of its coast, and California requires permits for any development within a thousand yards of mean high tide. Other states have the power to act when local governments fail to act. New Jersey and Montana have statewide floodplain zoning. This session or next, Congress is expected to pass Sen. Henry Jackson’s bill setting up a national land policy. Scoop Jackson is no wild-eyed socialist: he’s a conservative Democrat who happens to
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