Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Private company seeks property condemnation through eminent domain
Few principles hold a more prominent place in Texans’ personal creeds than the right to own property. It’s why many settled here. It’s why many bridle against regulations that impinge on how they ranch, farm, or manage their property.
And they recoil at the notion that a private company can ask and receive permission from state or federal governments to have part or all of their property condemned by eminent domain, limiting access to essential parts of a farm or ranch or, in more dire cases, rendering the property unfit for agriculture, hunting, or sale.
Landowners in Medina County, Texas, in dwindling numbers, hope to prevent a private out-of-state corporation — Vulcan Materials, a Fortune 500 multinational materials company based in Birmingham, Ala. — from completing condemnation of 43 properties to build a 9 mile rail spur from a quarry site. Vulcan has been trying to build the rail spur from a leased 1,700 acre quarry site to connect with the Union Pacific rail line 7 miles south at U.S. Hwy. 90.
Attorneys for Southwest Gulf Railroad filed a Petition in Condemnation in the Medina County Court on 43 properties belonging to farmers, ranchers, and other landowners in northeast Medina County. “What separates this case is that eminent domain is being abused by a
private corporation, solely for its own benefit,” Fitzgerald writes. “A
restrictive covenant barring rail construction binds 9,622 acres, on 56
separate properties with 108 signatories, along Vulcan’s proposed rail
line. “Only condemnation, using the
power of eminent domain, would extinguish these restrictive covenants
and remove them. But such power can only be validly exercised by a
common carrier, which Vulcan’s paper railroad, Southwest Gulf Railroad,
plainly is not...more