TAHSR LAND DEFENSE FUND FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST TEXAS CENTRAL RAILWAY AFFILIATE TO CHALLENGE SURVEY PERMISSION FORM
Texas Central Survey Permission Form Seeks Unlimited, Indefinite Access to Private Property
Jewett, Texas – The TAHSR Land Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jim Miles, a Leon County resident, against Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure (TCRI), an affiliate of Texas Central Railway (TCR), to challenge an exceptionally broad “survey permission form” that landowners along the proposed route of the Dallas Houston HSR are being asked to sign. The lawsuit, filed in the 87th District Court in Leon County, asks the Court to declare that the survey form exceeds the scope of survey activities allowable under Texas law.
Through the survey form, TCRI seeks permission to enter private property to conduct a series of surveys and invasive activities, like drillings and soil borings. The form is virtually unlimited in scope and duration, and would allow TCRI access to private property to performany activity it wanted to for an unspecified period of time. In addition, the form extends permission not only to TCRI but also to an unlimited number of unnamed persons, affiliates, and entities. As a result, TCRI had the right to extend its permission to anyone simply by claiming they are somehow affiliated with the Dallas Houston HSR.
The survey form is even more problematic given that TCRI still has not identified whether it is claiming eminent domain authority as a railroad, an electric railway, or some other entity. Likewise, the form does not identify any statute or authority that would allow TCRI to enter private property for any purpose, let alone to perform a variety of invasive surveys and other procedures.
Kyle Workman, president of TAHSR, said, “Despite claims of transparency and a commitment to work with landowners, no Texas Central official or affiliate has ever been able to provide the exact statute or evidence that their project is eligible for or has the authority of a railroad company. And although they have testified before our State Legislature that they have this authority, they are still unwilling to show proof. By TAHSR Land Defense Fund supporting this lawsuit, we are hoping to protect all the landowners who received this permission form, as well as the fundamental private property rights that would be trampled by the unlimited allowances of this survey permission form.”
Blake Beckham, TAHSR special litigation counsel and attorney for Jim Miles, stated, “We are confident that the survey form goes well beyond what Texas law allows. TCR and its affiliates should be immediately stopped from conducting any surveys until they explain to the court and to landowners why they believe they have authority to enter private property. This is yet another example of TCR withholding information from landowners whose property they intend to take. If TCR wants to take surveys, they must comply with the strict limits set forth under Texas law.”