Possible Problems for Coastal Homeowners

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Beachfront residents whose homes have ended up on public land as a result of shifting sands face an uncertain future. That's because a two-year moratorium limiting state action against them expires next week.

Affected landowners say they haven't heard from the Texas General Land Office and don't know what to expect. A land office spokesman says what action the state will take -- if any at all -- will be announced next Tuesday in Austin.

State officials have determined that 116 homes in Galveston and Brazoria counties violate the Texas Open Beaches Act because they're located seaward of the natural vegetation line and block public beaches. The law requires owners to move or lose their homes if they end up on the open beach.

But the Texas Legislature in 2003 passed a moratorium on state action. It was meant to allow time to see if the vegetation line shifted back to the beach side of some of the homes.