Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Kerr County joins 24 other counties who have passed a resolution opposing the Trans-Texas Corridor

Officials express opposition to corridor

By Glenda Taylor
Kerrville Daily Times
Copyright 2005

Kerr County will join 24 other Texas counties who have passed a resolution opposing the Trans Texas Corridor, a 4,000-mile project unveiled by Gov. Rick Perry in January 2002.

The court signed the resolution in Monday’s commissioners’ court session, after revising the wording presented in its original form by Pct. 1 Commissioner Buster Baldwin.

In February, a group of Kerr County residents outlined for the court the potential negative impacts of the corridor. Statewide, the project potentially could take more than 55,000 acres of land from Texas farmers, ranchers and homeowners, according to information provided by the Kerr County opposition group.

Baldwin said his purpose for bringing the resolution to the court was to let state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran and the Texas Department of Transportation know that Kerr County “opposes this thing.”

Baldwin said it was the “no compensation” for the state’s acquisition of government-owned property that caught his attention.

“They pay for nothing,” he said. “It just smacks of communism.”

Baldwin said his hope was that the resolution would make its way to the governor’s desk.

“If we’re going to chunk rocks ... that’s where they go,” he said.

The revised version of the resolution reflects court’s opposition to the quarter-mile width of each corridor and the project’s negative impact on the local economy “by splitting farms and ranches.”

The resolution also points to the 2003 legislation, HB 3588, which provided the authority to create the Trans Texas Corridor.

In addition, the court agreed that the projected cost of the Trans Texas corridor, estimated at $184 billion, “will place an unnecessary financial burden on state taxpayers.”

Pct. 4 Commissioner Dave Nicholson said improvements are needed in the state’s highway system. However, he said he had issues with parts of the project.

“I oppose it as it is proposed,” Nicholson said in Monday’s court session. Texas highways are “dangerous and crowded,” he added. “I don’t oppose the concept.”

Pct. 3 Commissioner Jonathan Letz agreed.

“Parts of the corridor are very much needed,” he said. “But I think the scale is ridiculous. I don’t see the need for three- or four-rail systems.”

Letz suggested adding the words “as it is currently proposed” to the resolution.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Bill Williams described the north/south corridor of the project as “ambitious,” but said there was an alternate plan that raised more concern.

“There is another corridor proposed that would cut Kerr County in half,” Williams said. “That is the one that gives me a pause for concern.”

The 25 Texas counties, which oppose some or all aspects of the Trans Texas Corridor, join the Texas Farm Bureau in opposition to the massive project.

The Farm Bureau has opposed the corridor for numerous reasons. Not only will the corridor cut through large areas of farming and ranching land across the state, there is no plan to provide access to those landowners whose property is divided by a corridor.

Other issues include those of emminent domain, said the Farm Bureau, which “directly conflicts with the requirement of the Texas Constitution.”

The Trans Texas Corridor plan would allow the state to lease condemned land to private business interests, preventing landowners from negotiating with private interests, according to the Farm Bureau. Its main concern is the overall impact of the Trans Texas Corridor on landowners across the state.

“There is legislation making its way through that would help address at least some of the issues with the corridor plan,” said Ned Meister, director of Commodities and Regulatory Activities at the Texas Farm Bureau. “It still doesn’t resolve a lot of the issues of imminent domain.”

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