Northeast Texas Land in Dispute Again

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AUSTIN (AP) - Months after Texans voted to clear state claims on
55-hundred acres in Northeast Texas, a lawsuit has brought the
issue up again.

And while state officials consider the issue resolved, the new
lawsuit worries property owners like Eddie McFarland, who thought
after the November vote that his property was safe.

This all started with an obscure Texas law that dealt with
flawed land surveys conducted in the days of early Texas settlers,
which sometimes left gaps between parcels of land.

Under Texas law, those bits of land belong to the state's
Permanent School Fund, an endowment for public schools. And anyone
who identified such vacancies could be eligible for a fraction of
any royalties produced by them.

After 61 percent of Texas voters said last November that the
land titles should be cleared, a state District Court judge in
Tyler dismissed the vacancy claims.

But Lewie Byers and Forrest Williams, who had identified what
they think are vacancies, filed an appeal on 900 acres in Smith
County, including land where McFarland has mineral rights. The case
is now in a state appeals court in Tyler.

But a spokesman for the General Land Office says that as far as
it is concerned, the issue is settled.