Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"I’m very concerned about the pre-trial confiscation of land by the TTC authority."

County discusses TTC legislation

September 13, 2006

Waxahachie Daily Light
Copyright 2006

While the Texas Department of Transportation has announced its plans to consider a re-route of the Trans-Texas Corridor from eastern Ellis County to the west side of the county, Commissioner Heath Sims, Pct. 3, encouraged the county’s commissioners court Monday morning to examine wording in legislation passed by the state Legislature.

“Over the last couple months there’s been lots of discussion about the TTC and people have come up to me with their concerns,” Sims said. “If you’ve had a chance to read through the legislation then good for you - if not I understand why.”

The total legislation numbers 219 pages.

“People have concerns about the taking of land and concerns about going out for bids on the job,” Sims said.

Sims invited former Ellis County Justice of the Peace Paul Perry and Ellis County Republican precinct chairman David Huckabee to address the court and update them on their concerns.

“I realize there will probably be a reroute in this area but that doesn’t change the bills in legislation that I think should be of concern for all Texans,” Perry said. “After your first notice about eminent domain, this legislation will allow the TTC authority to have a bulldozer in your kitchen on the 91st day after notice. That puts a lot of stress upon home owner, business owner and farm owner. Folks, this is Texas. We have fought wars over property rights. Certainly we can do better than that.”

Perry encouraged the commissioners to join 32 other Texas counties that have come out in opposition of the massive toll road plan.

“Judge, you have expressed concern that you would like to know what is going on in public hearings,” Perry said. “If you will take the time to review this, you will see you do not want to be associated with this bill. As it is currently worded I have serious concerns. I’m not opposed to infrastructure improvements or eminent domain if it’s done properly but these bills put a clock on eminent domain and mandate it.”

Adams asked Perry if his issue dwelled around the toll roads or property rights.

“I oppose the taking clauses and the entry on the land without notice in the legislation,” Perry said.

David Honeycutt told the commissioners that he had read the legislation in its entirety five times and has hired attorneys to look over it.

“Anytime a legislative document is written as vaguely as this, you realize it’s written to be left up to interpretation,” Honeycutt said. “And I’m very concerned about the pre-trail confiscation of land by the TTC authority.”

“In order for us to compete as a state we have to develop infrastructure,” Adams said. “We have a $38 billion shortfall in the Metroplex when it comes to transportation and currently our funding comes from the gas tax. I’m circling around to the fact that the transportation needs must be addressed. Are you also concerned about it being a toll road?”

“I’m not concerned about it being a toll road,” Honeycutt said. “A toll road owned by the state serves as a type of tax but the TTC is a private endeavor - it goes to the TTC authority - the TTC corridor and the private ownership of the TTC. I’m not in opposition to the roads. It is not the ends that alarm me - it is the means.”

Both Honeycutt and Perry mentioned the commissioners’ 3-2 vote on a resolution supporting the North Central Texas Council of Government’s request for TxDOT to study the Highway 360 and Loop 9 corridors for realignment of the TTC.

Both Adams and Commissioner Dennis Robinson, Pct. 1, expressed the reasoning behind their vote against the resolution.

“At the time we voted on the resolution, we had a community in Ellis County that was for the TTC,” Adams said. “We went over the resolution very carefully and made sure it didn’t support or oppose the TTC.”

“The intention of the vote was not in support of the corridor,” Robinson said. “Our intention was to hear the voice of the people before we expressed our opinion.”

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