Commissioners Court extends local disaster declaration, discusses guidelines for private parks and golf courses

The Medina County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to extend the local disaster declaration for the county as-is during the Commissioners Court meeting held last Thursday, April 23.

The initial declaration was made on March 18, and the most recent supplemental order was made on April 17.

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County Judge Chris Schuchart explained that since the last Commissioners Court meeting on April 9, he had modified the rules pertaining to golf courses to be nearly identical to an opinion letter on the matter that was released by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.

Schuchart said the county received a letter from an attorney representing Paradise Canyon, a private park in Rio Medina, who thought the county wasn’t properly following guidelines for private recreational areas released by Governor Greg Abbott.

“The unfortunate thing about it, in my opinion, we modified the golf course rules and the one golf course that’s open, I hear is still not following them,” Schuchart said. “We modify the recreational park rules, and I understand they’re not following them either.”

Schuchart said that he’d received word from the Governor’s office that Abbott was set to modify some of the guidelines the state has been operating under due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and that the county could then modify its own declaration in response.

Abbott has since released a plan to begin the partial re-opening of some businesses in the state.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Tim Neuman said representatives from Paradise Canyon had called him regarding the rental of cabins and RV spots.

Schuchart said the county’s declaration follows Abbott’s instructions exactly.

The county’s order states that short-term rentals are to close and vacate their guests. Exceptions include guests who are active military, law enforcement, or national reserve assisting with COVID-19 response efforts; emergency service personnel supporting city, county, state, or school district operations assisting with COVID-19 response efforts; or healthcare professionals and employees assisting with COVID-19 response efforts.

Guests who have established a rental unit as their primary place of residence are also exempt.

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“So the answer is no, they can’t,” Schuchart said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Larry Sittre a question had come up regarding the use of golf courses, which Abbott said could be used as a means of exercise.

“If they’re going to do that, why are we allowing them to ride around in a golf cart?” Sittre asked.

Schuchart said that some golfers probably couldn’t walk all 18 holes.

“But getting out in the open air and playing golf is still some type of exercise,” Schuchart said. “But also, in following the governor’s orders, we can only allow one to a golf cart unless you’re from the same household.”

By Marly Davis

Staff Writer