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Court of appeals issues decision in lawsuit against Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority

Following the 2019 Lake Dunlap Dam collapse, legal battles between property owners and the agency who maintains the dams poured in.

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — Following the Lake Dunlap Dam collapse, some property owners have gotten involved with legal action against the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

According to the GBRA, a decision issued in the Williams v. GBRA case claims the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue the agency.

Property owners along the other lakes, like Steve Pritchard feel the maintenance and upkeep of the dams is critical.

"To have a dam and get it rebuilt is very critical to the property values and the enjoyment of all property owners up there, and also the people that do enjoy it that aren't property owners," Pritchard said.

Some people brought action against the Guadalupe-Blanco River authority.

According to a GBRA statement, the Fourth Court of Appeals issued a decision stating the citizens had no legal standing to sue the authority.

Doug Sutter, who says at the time the primary purpose of the lawsuit was to stop the draining of Lake Dunlap.

Sutter says he filed a takings claim on behalf of his clients saying the lack of maintenance of the dam diminishes the property values of homes in the area.

Sutter disagrees with the recent ruling.

"It's very brief and it doesn't even refer to the basis of our lawsuit," Sutter said.

Sutter feels the court didn't use applicable cases to make a decision on the issues at hand.

"The court took an instructive case as opposed to an applicable case and went off on the decision. So we're going to move with the court to attempt to correct that error because it creates, in our opinion, bad law on a case of first impression," Sutter adds.

Sutter says if they aren't successful, he could go to the Texas Supreme Corut on an application for review.

“We are pleased with today’s timely and decisive decision from the Court of Appeals,” said GBRA General Manager and CEO Kevin Patteson in a statement.

The GBRA says construction on the Lake Dunlap dam began in May 2021 and will take 24 months to finish. Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid dams are currently in the design phase with the final stages expected to be finished in November 2021.

Pritchard thinks the legal route is a long but necessary one. He wants the lakes in the best shape they can be.

“The lakes themselves are income generators, for taxes, for school taxes, and that’s all going to go away or certainly be diminished by a great degree if these lakes are not restored,” Pritchard said.

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