GALVESTON — Getting permission to groom a city beach has become a little easier.

The city’s planning commission adopted new policies Tuesday that will remove a requirement for individual property owners to come to the commission for a permit to clear seaweed or debris from beaches in front of private properties.

Under the new policy, property owners or the contractors they hire will be able to approach the city’s planning department for permission. The applicant will have to sign an affidavit swearing to conform to the city’s best practices policies — which were also adopted by the commission Tuesday.

Under the best practices, the use of heavy construction vehicles — including road graders and skid loaders — to clean the beaches is prohibited. Beach rakes and front-end loaders with special equipment will still be permitted.

The policy also requires that removed seaweed be redistributed along the beach and that sand not be removed or moved from the permitted area.

Planning director Rick Vasquez said the change was an effort to streamline a process that had created extra work for both the commission and the property owners.

“The permit requirement for maintenance is local, it’s not part of the state statue or rules,” Vasquez said. “This is just merely moving seaweed off the beach.”

Under the new policies, beach maintenance approvals will remain in place for two years instead of just one.

“That should lessen our load for the next couple years,” said Joe Rozier, the planning commission chairman.

The city will still require planning commission approval for beach-front construction and dune maintenance.

A suggestion about applying penalties to those who violate the city’s beach maintenance rules may require that the planning commission’s changes also go in front of The City Council.

The beach maintenance rules were created in consultation with the Park Board of Trustees.

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com.

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