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Port Aransas beach resort fighting beach access road by encouraging residents to vote

Posted at 10:46 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 23:46:44-04

Two months ago, KRIS 6 News first reported about Cinnamon Shore — a popular and expanding beach community in Port Aransas — encouraging its property owners to vote in the May city election.

But, the Secretary of State's Office and Texas Attorney General said that request may have violated state law.

The AG is investigating the team at Cinnamon Shore for sending an email that asks at least one person per home at the resort to register to vote in Port Aransas, and vote for candidates who oppose a new beach access road just south of Cinnamon Shore.

The problem? Almost all of the owners at Cinnamon Shore, don't live there full-time.

In October, several Cinnamon Shore property owners spoke out against the plan to build this road at a Port Aransas City Council meeting, highlighting increased traffic, decreased property values and safety concerns.

"I beg you please do not put this in my backyard," resident Natasha Davis asked of the council.

But the city says the road is about safety and getting emergency vehicles to the beach quicker.

They say 40 percent of all EMS calls come from south of mile marker 30, which is the direction of Cinnamon Shore.

"This is an issue about saving people's lives and getting our EMS team to the people who need it faster and quicker," Port Aransas resident Roger Powers said.

In November, the general manager of the multi-million-dollar luxury home community went before council offering another solution.

He offered to allow EMS access to the walkway Cinnamon Shore uses to access the beach.

"We're working with them to get that certification letter to ensure that in the future, EMS can use our dune walkovers to access the beach and provide necessary easements," Daniel Mazoch, general manager of Cinnamon Shore said.

The city council is moving forward with plans for the proposed access road.

In February, Cinnamon Shore sent an email to owners, asking them to register for the upcoming election and vote for candidates who support "responsible development plans of Cinnamon Shore."

The letter lists the access road as one of the main issues.

"And for somebody to think that they own a business or short-term rental as a business, that gives them the right to change our election, is just not right," said Jo Ellyn Krueger, Port Aransas City Council member for Place 3.

It might also be illegal, according to the Secretary of State.

Nueces County Tax Records show only two of the 526 owners at Cinnamon Shore have a homestead exemption, meaning it's their primary residence.

In a letter to the AG, Secretary of State investigator John Scott said the Cinnamon Shore email warranted an investigation, because the state election code prohibits anyone from trying to get people to vote under false pretenses.

"It's just wrong. We should have fair elections, if you live here, you vote here, if you don't, you don't," Krueger said.

KRIS 6 News asked Cinnamon Shores for an interview, but they declined our request to speak on camera.

Back in March, they said it was their intention to encourage homestead residents to vote.

The AG's office opened its investigation ten days after KRIS 6 News first reported on this story.

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