Anderson, Texas – From the steps of the historic Grimes County Courthouse steps, Grimes County Judge Ben Leman announced today an action taken by the county’s Commissioners Court will restrict authorization for high-speed rail projects crossing county roads to only those projects with proof of eminent domain authority. This Grimes County regulation, the only high-speed rail regulation at either local or state levels, will force Texas Central and any affiliate of the proposed Dallas Houston HSR to show proof of their eminent domain authority before they can move forward with their project through Grimes County.
Referencing Texas Central’s public response after the recent Surface Transportation Board ruling, Judge Leman said, “Texas Central now claims that without federal jurisdiction, they do not need any sort of approval from the State of Texas to use eminent domain or to begin construction. It is unfathomable to think any entity, could ever self-declare they are a railroad, give themselves eminent domain authority, and start bullying landowners, using scare tactics and issuing legal threats against our citizens…without any governmental body granting them this authority, approving this project, or regulating this endeavor.”
Judge Leman went on to say, “I stand here today to announce Grimes County will not let that happen… Grimes County will require a permit to be approved by Commissioners Court before construction can begin on any high-speed rail project where it crosses a county road. Included in this permit, among other regulations, will be a requirement for any high-speed rail entity to provide sufficient proof that they have been granted the power of eminent domain by the federal or state government. Without such proof, the permit will be denied and that high-speed rail project would not be able to come through Grimes County.” Noting, “I will be reaching out to all of the eight pass-through counties in the path of this project to coordinate our efforts for them to pass similar regulations.”
Texans Against High-Speed Rail President Kyle Workman was on hand to offer words of caution directly to Texas Central and its investors, “Texas Central…hear me when I say…we, the landowners you are intimidating and harassing, are prepared to challenge you at every available juncture, with unparalleled passion and commitment. Your dishonest and disingenuous business tactics…from the bullying of landowners to the lengths undertaken to hide information from the citizens of this state…will not be tolerated.”
Workman reinforced our state leadership’s commitment to private property rights. Adding, “Although the Texas Legislature could potentially provide Texas Central some relief, it would only do so after abandoning the private property rights of not only Texas landowners who stood together to protect their land, but ALL Texans. However, we know that both Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick are champions of private property rights and wouldn’t tolerate any relinquishing of those rights, especially for foreign gain…Any support for this project is an affront to private property rights and endorsement of taxpayer subsidies.”
This Grimes County regulation is commensurate with previous requests for proof of eminent domain authority from private entities requesting to cross county rights-of-way. However, today’s measure will likely be the first of many at the local level to address the regulatory issues surrounding the Dallas Houston HSR.
Full transcripts of press conference remarks are available at www.TexansAgainstHSR.com.