(Orange, Texas)

June 19, 2013

Ordinance passes regulating swimming at Bridge City Boat Ramp

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Concerns for the safety of swimmers near the Bridge City Boat ramp lead to an ordinance banning swimming within 50 feet of the ramp.

Commissioner Pct. 3 John Banken questioned if there was a minimum or maximum footage required for the ordinance.

“I don’t want to stop swimming,” Banken said. “I just don’t want to hinder the boats.”

Assistant County Attorney Douglas Manning said it was at the court’s discretion to determine the area.

“I started with 500 feet because of the concern of including the dilapidated bridge and the inorganic matter in the waters,” Manning said. “It is a starting place.”

Commissioner Pct. 2 Burton Owens said he wanted to emphasize that it is for protecting the swimmers.

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said that swimmers don’t realize the danger.

Texas Game Warden Phillip LeDoux said that if a person is in their bathing suit and launching a boat they are not considered to be swimming.

“People need a place to swim,” LeDoux said. “I understand less laws, less regulations but this is to prevent a tragedy.”

Sabine River Authority built the boat ramp which is maintained by TxDOT. Orange County owns the boat ramp.

The court passed the ordinance during the 2 p.m. Commissioners Court meeting. Swimming within 50 feet of the boat ramp will be considered a Class C Misdemeanor with fines ranging from $25 -$500 plus court costs which could be as high as $100.

Penalties will need to be published in the paper and the ordinance will need to be filed with Texas Parks and Wildlife.