No date set for reinforcement of New Braunfels ‘can ban’

Comal River in New Braunfels on July 1, 2016. (KXAN Photo/Sean Farrar)
People tubing and soaking in the sun on the Comal River in New Braunfels on July 1, 2016. (KXAN Photo/Sean Farrar)

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — The city of New Braunfels says it is moving forward with making plans on how to reinstate the “can ban” ordinance, as it waits on an official mandate from the Third Court of Appeals.

In May, the Third Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city of New Braunfels, stating the district court “lacked subject-matter jurisdiction” over the city’s claims. The state appeals court reversed the lower court’s 2014 ruling that determined the city’s “can ban” was unconstitutional. 

During a recent city council meeting, the council directed city staff to work with the city’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to implement a strategy to educate the public about the upcoming changes. City staff are expected to give an update on the plan at a July 10 meeting where stakeholders can help determine the timeframe for the rollout of the ordinance.

A spokesperson for the city of New Braunfels says while the mandate from the Third Court of Appeals is expected to be issued on Aug. 15, 2017, since the appeals process is still ongoing, there is no date for potential enforcement of the “can ban.” The city will also need to see if the plaintiffs will challenge the appellate ruling to the Texas Supreme Courts.

“Rest assured that the City will provide advanced notice to the public, if/when the legal process concludes and enforcement of the ordinance is allowed,” said New Braunfels spokesperson Sheri Masterson. “We invite everyone to come and enjoy the rivers and make some great family memories in our community!”

In 2012, New Braunfels implemented an 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, onto the river. The plaintiffs, various tubing outfitters and tourism groups, in the case believed the ordinance had a negative impact on their businesses.

When the “can ban” was overturned in 2014, city officials said they saw a sharp increase in trash and litter in the Comal and New Braunfels Rivers.

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