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After Long Legal Fight, Texas Boat Storage Site Moves Ahead

By Laura Elder

After an expensive nine years, the Village of Tiki Island, a waterfront community in Galveston County, Texas, has agreed to settle a lawsuit, allowing a boat storage development to proceed and to compensate the plaintiff.

The zoning restriction dispute between the village and Premier Tierra, a subsidiary of IBC Bank, ended last month after years of litigation, appeals, and a “significant amount of money,” the canal community spent on attorneys’ fees, according to a letter the board of aldermen sent to residents last week.

The end of the legal fight clears the way for a boat dry stack built at the height of 55 feet, three condominium buildings, retail/restaurant and wet slips for 122 boats in Tiki Island, according to the letter.

“In addition, it was agreed by both parties to provide the developer a combination of sales and property tax rebates until the development has increased its tax value by $100,000 per the Galveston County Tax Assessor. The rebates are also capped. With this agreement, Premier has now agreed to drop the lawsuit.”

Tiki Island Mayor Vernon Teltschick last week referred questions to City Secretary Brandee Lawther about financial terms and how much Tiki Island paid in attorneys’ fees to fight the boat dry stack. Lawther didn’t immediately respond to a request for details. But the rebates won’t take effect until there’s a development, Teltschick said.

A marina development has long been proposed for Tiki Island. During the real estate boom that went bust after Hurricane Ike, the firm Tiki Ventures Ltd. had planned to develop 90 condominiums and 150 boat slips. IBC-Houston in 2009 loaned money for the project, which never got off the ground. IBC took possession of the site and subsidiary Premier Tierra Holdings now owns the 5 acres along West Bay.

In 2010, Tiki Island developed and approved a zoning ordinance for all areas of land in the community. An important aspect of the zoning ordinance was the marina could not include a boat dry stack, according to the board of aldermen letter.

Ultimately, Premier Tierra sued, arguing the village was attempting to apply zoning restrictions after it had filed a plat.

The biggest problem with the boat dry stack, in which boats are stored in covered buildings on racks, as opposed to on the water, was safety, said Teltschick, who noted an electrical fire that consumed a 130-boat dry stack at the Galveston Yacht Basin during Hurricane Ike in 2008. The proposed dry stack facility is near the Tiki Island Bridge, Teltschick said.

The mood about the potential development hasn’t changed among residents, but the ordeal is behind them, Teltschick said. Premier Tierra all along has planned to market the property to a developer. 

Laura Elder is a reporter with Galveston Daily News.

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