County wins right to seize land around Rollover Pass

Rollover Pass
Rollover Pass

ROLLOVER PASS, Texas – One of Texas’ most beloved fishing spots may be seeing its final days. On Friday, a judge granted a summary judgment in favor of Galveston County seizing 15.87 acres of land surrounding Rollover Pass on the Bolivar Peninsula.

The county moved to seize the land through eminent domain after the Texas Legislature gave the state’s General Land Office permission to close the pass. The GLO does not have the authority to seize land through eminent domain, but the county does have that authority.

The GLO sought permission to close the pass following Hurricane Ike, citing constant beach erosion, imbalances in the salt to freshwater ratio in the bays and steep annual maintenance costs. The county also claimed the pass creates additional dangers on the Bolivar Peninsula during storms.

The land around the pass is owned by the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel and Gun Club, which bought the property in the 1950s and gave it to the people of Texas as a gift. The previous owner, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, cut the pass, which became one of the premier fishing spots in the state.

The Gulf Coast club fought the seizure, and many who’ve enjoyed the pass for generations argue it creates a healthy environment for the bays and provides one of the only spots in the state where people can catch quality fish without the expense of renting charters or buying a boat. Several small businesses near the pass also depend on those who come to fish.

Even though the judge’s order required the property to be vacated within seven days, county officials said they are working with the Gulf Coast club to make sure no businesses are hastily displaced. Officials with the GLO said they are updating an Army Corps of Engineers permit allowing for the closure of the pass and will soon put out bids for the work.

County officials said they will also soon send out bids for the construction of a public park on the land, as well as a large pier to accommodate those who come to the spot for fishing.

The Gulf Coast club can appeal the judge’s ruling, and a trial is set for June regarding fair market value of the land surrounding Rollover Pass.

Take a look at the judge's orders below.

File: Order on Gulf Coast & Gilchrist Objection

File: Order Granting Galveston Application for Possession

File: Order Granting Galveston MSJ Regarding Right to take

File: Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment Regarding Right to Take