Tuesday, November 14, 2006

“The TTC’s eminent domain legislation eliminated the due process that protected us from what could only be called a ‘land grab.’”

Taking a stand

November 14, 2006

Waxahatchie Daily Light
Copyright 2006

The final approved version was whittled down from its original form, but the Ellis County Commissioners Court passed a resolution Monday morning asking the Texas Legislature to reconsider legislation regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor.

At the request of Heath Sims, Pct. 3, the commissioners had discussed a possible resolution during their last two meetings that would have opposed the TTC project.

During Monday morning’s meeting and the meeting of Oct. 23, a number of Ellis County residents spoke out against the TTC and encouraged the court to pass a resolution showing the county’s opposition to the planned toll road.

Jimmie Simmons encouraged the court to speak out loudly against the TTC.

“When you all speak out powerfully against something, Austin will hear you,” Simmons said. “Strongly tell the Texas government that we don’t want this in our county.”

Waxahachie Council member and Judge Chad Adams’ recent opponent for county judge Chuck Beatty said he was at the meeting to continue fighting for the people of Ellis County.

“First of all I would like to congratulate Adams on his reelection,” Beatty said. “The voters of Ellis County have spoken and have entrusted you to protect their interests. I promised my supporters that win or lose, I would continue to fight for them. It’s true that Texas needs infrastructure to compete but I don’t believe it should be at the expense of destroying some of the most fertile land in the world. Our main objection however is the way the legislation was written with regard to eminent domain, eliminating the due process that protects us from what could only be called a ‘land grab’ and eroding our liberties.”

Beatty said that counties up and down the proposed corridor are fighting the project and he encouraged the Ellis County commissioners to stand up as well.

After public comments Sims made a motion to accept the resolution.

“I went to an event Saturday honoring our veterans,” Sims said. “As I sat there I thought about our founding fathers coming here to create a government for the people and by the people. Our veterans went to fight and take a stand for the freedom in our country and in other countries. This project will take between 450 to 500 acres per mile. This is a wall through the middle of Texas. It’s very important that we as a court take a stand.”

Sims made a motion to accept the resolution, and Commissioner Larry Jones, Pct. 2, seconded the motion.

But before taking a vote, Commissioner Dennis Robinson, Pct. 1, said he would like to amend the motion, cutting the resolution to the first two paragraphs.

“I’m not in support of this road coming through Ellis County,” Robinson said. “But I believe that by simply opposing the legislation it gives us a chance to have a seat at the table.”

Robinson made a motion for the amendment and Commissioner Ron Brown, Pct. 4, seconded the amendment.

“I don’t understand the fear and trying to soften this up,” Sims said. “It’s like putting sugar on a piece of bread. I don’t understand why we need to shorten it other than we might not get something in Austin we want. We’re at the table already. I think we need to stand strong and support what our citizens are asking us to do. We’re still Ellis County, not the North Central Texas Council of Governments (subsection) A - Ellis County. We need to stand up for Ellis County.”

Robinson said there might be consequences down the road for standing up against the TTC.

“I’m concerned that we need to be sure we have a place at the table for regional talks about transportation,” Adams said. “There are a number of electric plants being built south of here. And those plants will require coal which will likely run right through our county. I’m concerned about not having a say as to where trains a mile or two long, carrying coal, come through our county. We have a say as long as we’re still at the table. One of the reasons I’ve worked so hard to be at the table is so we can be involved in the decision making process for regional issues. I think we were successful in getting a letter from the governor supporting the idea of a new route for the TTC along the Highway 360 corridor and we have to remain at the table to have a say in the future of rail and road in Ellis County or else we’ll get pushed out.”

Adams also said the first two paragraphs were what were originally presented to the court by members of the public and the rest of the resolution was additional text added by Sims.

“What you’ve added to the resolution hurts our position,” Adams said. “I don’t think it adequately reflects the people of this county.”

With a 3-2 vote, the commissioners voted to approve Robinson’s amendment. Sims and Jones voted against the amendment.

The vote to approve the first two paragraphs of the resolution passed unanimously.

“I’m pleased we got a resolution passed,” Sims said after the meeting. “I wish it would have passed with more teeth, but I’m pleased we got something passed.”

Adams said he was pleased with the final resolution as well.

“We’re not opposed to the TTC but we are concerned about parts of the legislation creating the TTC,” Adams said. “We want to continue to address transportation issues in Ellis County and the region and we want to be a part of the process.”

E-mail Jonathan at j.blundell@thedailylight.com

© 2006 The Daily Light: www.waxahachiedailylight.com