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With only three days left on the state lease, officials unanimously voted to unown approximately 5,000 acres of land in Freestone County.

Fairfield, Texas — Editor’s note | This article summary has been changed for formatting.

This article first appeared in the Texas Tribune and is available here.

The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife has embarked on Saturday to seize 5,000 acres of land south of Dallas, including Fairfield Lake State Park, citing the need to preserve state parks enjoyed by thousands of Texans. It was unanimously voted to use the domain.

After months of stalled legislative action and unsuccessful negotiations to secure the park, the state chose to requisition the land from Dallas-based developer Todd Interest. $110.5 million. Commissioners were unenthusiastic about using prominent territorial authority to denounce land, but officials ultimately decided that the case was an exceptional case in the public interest.

“I think we have a clear duty to act in the greater good of all Texans. In fact, it’s been nearly 40 years since we last used it,” said Jeffrey Hildebrand, a member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. just before making a resolution condemning the

Since this property has a public purpose as a park, Distinguished Domain Expert Texas says it can take over private land even if developers don’t want to sell it.

The state will then notify Todd of the denial decision and offer to sell the land. The state and developers will negotiate how much Texas will pay for about 5,000 acres of land. If no agreement is reached, the matter may go to court.

At a public rally on Saturday, Freestone County residents, environmental activists and lawmakers testified in favor of the accusations to protect critical public assets for future Texans. Texas State Park Service Director Rodney Franklin noted that 80% of the public comments the agency received prior to this decision were in favor of using prominent domains to preserve the park.

Since the 1970s, the state has leased the park free of charge from Vistra. When the energy company closed a coal-fired power plant on site, it considered selling the land. The state wanted to purchase 1,820 acres of Fairfield Lake State Park, but Vistra did not want to sell the portion. The energy company said the state did not offer to buy the entire property.

Real estate developer Sean Todd and his family company, Todd Interest, are developing a 5,000-acre project with the goal of transforming the property into an upscale gated community that includes multi-million dollar homes and a private golf course. bought everything.

park Closed in February When the sale was announced, the agency scrambled to keep the space open to the public. Some attempts have failed.

A bill that would have allowed the agency to use prominent land to requisition park land was defeated in Congress. Even if the bill does not pass, it would not prevent authorities from using well-known domains. MPs, with voter approval, another billion dollars to purchase more land for the state park system.

Negotiations between the developer and the state have not been successful.Todd’s interest declined the agency’s offer There is a $25 million offer for the entire property, which will force TPWD to pursue prominent domain and disclaimer options in a last-ditch effort to keep the property in public hands.

TPWD commissioners last month gave the agency’s executive director the freedom to take “all necessary steps” to acquire the park. Those who spoke Saturday were all in favor of preserving the park, but many lamented that the famous land is a means to that end.

State Parks Texans Chairman Kevin Goode said, “We regret that we did not have the ability to resolve this issue before it got to this point and required these steps.” “Government agencies should actively work to avoid such situations in the future.”

Todd claimed to have had a “good faith dialogue” with Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III about the property since September 2022.

“However, Texas has been working for the past eight months to derail our trade and curtail our trade rights,” Todd told the Parks and Wildlife Commission in June. said in a letter.

According to the letter, the company has begun executing its development plans and investing millions of dollars in related contracts.

Several stages remain in the condemnation process, including an independent review of property values, but it’s not clear when the park can reopen.

“This park is invaluable not only to our local community, but to park lovers across the state,” said the representative. Angelia OrrRepublican Itasca said at a meeting on Saturday. Ore’s neighborhood includes Fairfield Lake State Park. When the park’s future was called into question in February, she said her office was inundated with messages from Texans urging them to do whatever they could to save the park.

“You may hear that the business interests of one family matter, but I want to argue that the interests of thousands of everyday working-class Texans matter as well. If not, and if now is not the time, when?” said Mr. Orr.

After voting to condemn this property, the commission made efforts to moderate the use of the prominent land. These bodies adopted a second motion directing the Executive Director to develop a Commission policy limiting the authority of prominent territories to “unusual and unusual circumstances such as Fairfield State Park.”

Disclosure: The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Conservation Fund have financially supported the Texas Tribune, a non-profit, nonpartisan news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. rice field. Financial backers play no role in Tribune journalism.find the perfect here is a list of them.

texas tribune is a non-profit, non-partisan media organization that informs and engages Texans on public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/local/texas-parks-and-wildlife-department-opts-eminent-domain-to-save-fairfield-lake-state-park/500-70a9dc46-a287-45f4-8fdf-c6f09cbbe95a FAIRFIELD, TX NEWS | TPWD TRY TO SAVE LAKE FAIRFIELD

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