Leon County landowner meets high speed rail company in court

Published: Apr. 6, 2017 at 5:08 PM CDT
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Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure had more than three dozen lawsuits against citizens who wouldn't allow them to survey their land, but those lawsuits are all dropped. The only one that remains is from the only landowner suing the rail company, Jim Miles. His attorney says their argument comes down to one definition; eminent domain.

"My whole thing is, I'm 78 years old," explained Miles, "and I don't wanna have to sit here no two, or three or four years to come and take my property."

For Miles, the issue was never about his initial lawsuit stating Texas Central had overstepped its bounds with a voluntary survey request. It was all about his legal team saying they'd drop the case if they admitted to not having eminent domain, but Texas Central is not withdrawing that right.

"Railroads in Texas have had eminent domain authority for over 100 years," said Travis Kelly, Texas Central Vice President of External Affairs.

"We certainly don't want to have to use it, and so far, the negotiations with landowners are going incredibly well,' Kelly continued.

Texas Central says it will not need to survey Miles's property and will drop its counter suit, but would also possibly adjust the route of the train to remain off his land.

"They say they're not gonna go across my place, but what's happening two years from now?" asked Miles "Do they come back and say 'Oh, we gotta have your place,' you know? That's what I'm fighting for."

At the start of the hearing, Judge Deborah Evans said there would be no ruling Thursday and would not be one until she has looked at all the briefings. At the end, she did mention the option of abatement until a definite line is drawn as to where Texas Central plans to construct and if it in fact goes through Miles's property.