Recent Texas Association of Realtors Article About HSR Raises Concern for Many Realtors

In last month’s issue of Texas REALTOR Magazine, one of our donating members discovered this article:
We’d like to share the letter she sent out to the editor of the magazine below. Texas Association of Realtors hasn’t clarified that they are against the use of eminent domain for this project and against the proposed route. TAR has a statement forthcoming.

From: Judi Foster
Sent: Monday, January 9, 2017 1:08 PM
To: Vicki Fullerton
Subject: TAR Endorsement of High speed train
Importance: High

Vicki,

I read in the December issue of the Texas Realtor Magazine that TAR has endorsed the proposed Texas Central Railway high speed train and can’t tell you how upset I am at that endorsement.  As a longtime member of TAR, I am extremely upset that a membership poll wasn’t taken about this very important issue that will not only affect the Realtors, but Texas landowners all along the route.

In short, the train will, on its current proposed route, cut through beautiful rural properties on its way from Houston to Dallas.  Some of this route will go through the middle of working farms and ranches, in effect, cutting them in half and making farming and ranching those properties very difficult.  In other cases, it will be cutting right through people’s land and homes, some of which have been owned for many years or generations in some cases.  Almost all of the rural county commissioners, judges, senators and representative have voiced their opinion against this.  The railroad is trying to acquire land through an obscure 1800’s eminent domain Federal law that was enacted when our nation was sparsely populated and rail was needed.  It will destroy land values where it cuts through these properties and render some unsaleable.  The money is coming from Japan and we don’t need foreign countries coming in and destroying land values in Texas to profit a very few.

I was one of the organizers of a meeting in Montgomery early last year about the proposed train.  We sent out word of the meeting via social media, emails and phone calls and hoped to have 300 attendees.  We had over 800 in attendance from all over Montgomery and surrounding counties.  The county judge, commissioners, state representatives and senators were all in attendance and ALL were adamantly opposed to the train.  Mark Castleschouldt, Montgomery County Appraisal District spoke and told us how the train would decimate property values along its route for the foreseeable future, making some land worth pennies on the dollar in comparison to current value.  We had appraisers say exactly the same thing. Kyle Workman from Leon County is heading the “opposition group” which is comprised of affected counties along the proposed route spoke of exactly the same thing……loss of property values and destruction of beautiful rural Texas lands, not to mention disrupting the very lives of so many landowners.

As Realtors I believe we should do all we can to protect, preserve and cherish private land rights for Texans, not promote something that will destroy these very things/rights.  Larry Jacobs, Jacobs Properties, is a longtime, local Realtor, rancher and is very much opposed to the railroad.  He is also a rancher who would be affected.  We have friends in Leon County that have been told the line will cut their 250 acres in half.  They fear it will make cattle ranching impossible and will so devalue their ranch it will become worth pennies on the dollar.   This is their retirement dream and now they fear that dream is going away and their investment ruined. Who wants a train running through their property every 30 minutes at 250 miles per hour?

This proposed train will ONLY benefit a very few in Harris and Dallas counties.  Do they really expect Texans to give up their vehicles to drive to Houston or Dallas, park a car, go through security, travel to their destination AT THE SAME COST OF A PLANE TICKET, have to rent a car or take a cab at the Dallas or Houston station and then do the same thing in reverse when they are ready to return. Doing all that will take almost the same amount of time as taking a plane or driving a personal car.  They have proposed a stop in Shiro, saying it would be a “mid” point for students from A&M and Sam Houston State. Shiro is a tiny, beautiful, rural area and I have spoken to residents from there and I guarantee they do not want a station or the train.  Do they really believe students are going to drive there and leave their cars?  Not gonna happen!

I would encourage TAR to take a second, reasonable look at their endorsement.  I have spoken to many Realtors in this area since the article came out and have not found 1 I favor.  I believe TAR listened only to Houston and Dallas Realtors and did not read the membership that would be most affected by this land grab. Rural Realtors count!!!

Thanks for listening to my side and I sincerely hope TAR will talk with government officials along the proposed route and understand why this train is such a bad idea for Texas landowners.

Judi Foster, GRI, ABR, CHMS, Coldwell Banker United, Realtors

The 85th Legislature: Will it protect our property rights?

Dear Friends & Supporters,

There was excitement in the air at our state’s capitol yesterday, with the swearing in of the 85th Legislature. This session is shaping up to be an important time for private property rights, specifically the protection of those landowners in TCR’s path. We met with many of our friends today both in the House and Senate, securing renewed commitments to oppose TCR and its Japanese backed-HSR project. We are proud of the dedicated legislators committed to our cause and standing up for all Texans.

Meeting with our friends at the Capitol. @TrentashbyTx #TexasLege @Texas_Lege #austin #texas #texascapitol #HSR #BlowTheWhistleOnHSR #HighSpeedRail

A photo posted by Texans Against High-Speed Rail (@texansagainsthsr) on

 

Of note was the presence of TCR at the Capitol today. We saw some of their operatives roaming the corridors, undoubtedly working to thwart our efforts and maybe much more…

In light of the importance and urgency of this session, TAHSR needs your support now more than ever. Your financial contributions will be used to raise awareness and to provide you a loud voice in our most hallowed halls, the State Capitol.  Our legislative friends need our support as well; they need the tools necessary to pull together coalitions, research pending legislation, and keep the issue in the forefront of ALL legislators not just those representing the areas along the proposed corridor. Your donations to TAHSR will provide this support and make a difference on this important issue.

As a reminder, there will be times that your presence at the Capitol will be paramount to support legislation, through committee hearings and legislative days. Please monitor your choice of media for dates and times, understanding notice may be short.

You can find recent news and information about the project and our work on our social media channels and our website, www.TexansAgainstHSR.com.

Thank you for your support thus far and allowing us to serve you. Now is the time…

Kyle Workman – President

Texas Legislators Cry Foul On Conservative Support For HSR

Texas Central recently cited a Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute white paper as “conservative support” for their HSR project. This response from leading conservatives in the Texas Legislature makes is very clear where real conservatives stand on this issue.

Members Response to TCCRI Eminent Domain Position

TCCRI Eminent Domain Protections in TX

PRESS RELEASE January 3, 2017

TEXAS CENTRAL SERVES INJUNCTION LAWSUIT IN KENDALL COUNTY, 250 MILES FROM HARRIS COUNTY WHERE THE PROPERTY IS LOCATED

Jewett, Texas – Following Judge Halbach’s denial of Texas Central’s motion for summary judgment “in its entirety” in the injunction lawsuit against landowner Calvin House, Texas Central attempted to spin the ruling and downplay its significance. In its December 20 press release, Texas Central said that it is looking forward to its day in court, where “we will show in a full trial that state law, established for more than a century, clearly gives railroad companies the right to conduct land surveys without interference.” Trial is scheduled for July 3, 2017.

What Texas Central didn’t say was that it already had its day in court at a hearing in September 2016, when it “passed” on its request for a temporary injunction after Judge Halbach made comments indicating that the request would be denied. Texas Central also left out the fact that Mr. House agreed to go to a “full trial” in November 2016, and that it declined his offer and filed its unsuccessful motion for summary judgment instead. Texas Central ended its statement with the following promise: “Meanwhile, we will continue to work with landowners in a direct and respectful manner as the project moves ahead as planned.”

Unfortunately for Texas Central, actions speak louder than words. Immediately following the release of its statement on December 20, Texas Central began attempts to serve yet another injunction lawsuit against a Harris County landowner. Texas Central filed the lawsuit back in June 2016 in Kendall County near San Antonio, where the landowner lives. In the suit, Texas Central claims harm is “imminent” and “immediate” and that “without examination and survey of the Property, the proposed high-speed rail line project will be indefinitely suspended….” Yet, Texas Central let the case sit idle for months, until October 21 when it requested the necessary papers from the court to serve the lawsuit. Coincidentally, this was just two days after Texas Central filed its motion for summary judgment against Mr. House in Harris County. Texas Central’s fallback plan was in place. If it lost on summary judgment in Harris County, it could move forward with service immediately in Kendall County, 250 miles from the court where it had just lost. Texas Central followed through with its plan and served its lawsuit on January 3.

Blake Beckham, special litigation counsel for Texans Against HSR, said, “After giving up at the temporary injunction hearing and then losing outright on summary judgment in Harris County, it appears that Texas Central now wants to go halfway across Texas to try its identical losing arguments out on a new judge. They’re desperately looking for an easy win against an unsuspecting landowner, hoping that some court, somewhere, will say that this under-funded startup is an actual railroad with eminent domain power in Texas. This is some of the most egregious forum shopping I have experienced in my 30 years of practice.”

Texans Against HSR President Kyle Workman said, “After Judge Halbach’s ruling, we asked Texas Central to stop its harassment of Texas landowners. And what did they do? They served another lawsuit 250 miles away, hoping nobody would find out about it. This is not what I would call working with landowners in a direct and respectful manner. It is deceitful and outright bullying, and it needs to stop.”

Texas Central has sued over 40 landowners in at least six counties to gain access to private property. In each and every lawsuit, Texas Central has claimed it is a railroad with eminent domain authority. Texas Central has also been repeating this claim to landowners for more than a year in an effort to obtain surveys and option contracts. However, no Texas court has ruled in Texas Central’s favor, nor has any court ordered an injunction against a landowner to allow Texas Central access to private property.

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