Judge rules New Braunfels’ “can ban” unconstitutional

Comal River (KXAN File Photo)
Comal River (KXAN File Photo)

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — A judge in Comal County on Friday ruled the City of New Braunfels’ “can ban” unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Judge Don Burgess, declared that the disposable container ordinance as well as part of the ordinance that limits the size of coolers were both unconstitutional.

He also said the City was ‘illegally expending taxpayer funds to enforce the Ordinances.’

While the City can still appeal the decision, the ruling will stay in place throughout the appeals process (if there is one).

In addition, the Order awarded more than $250,00 in attorney’s fees to the river outfitters. Rockin “R” River Rides, Texas Tubes and several other businesses were involved in the suit against the City.

In 2012, the City implemented a new ordinance where tubers on the Comal and Guadalupe River were not allowed to bring any disposable containers, such as beer/soda cans, plastic baggies and water bottles on the river.

The plaintiffs in the case believed the ordinance had a negative impact on their businesses.

“These businesses have tried to work with the City to develop a workable framework that meets both goals: a clean river and the ability of river users to enjoy the river without the threat of unfair and uncertain criminal prosecution for violating an Ordinance no one understood,” said Jim Ewbank, the plaintiffs attorney, in a statement.

According to the City, the ordinance helped cut down on the litter in the rivers by more than 90 percent.

In 2011 (before the ordinance went into effect), 112,429 lbs. of litter was collected from the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers.

In 2012 (after the ban), 8,562 lbs. of litter was collected. 3,600 lbs. of litter was collected through May 2013.

Earlier this year, the New Braunfels City Council discussed the idea of charging a fee to enter the parks that have direct access to the Comal River, but ended up not moving forward with the fee.

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