As far as Todd Interests is concerned, the war over Lake Fairfield State Park has only just begun.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously decided Tuesday night to seek eminent domain to save a state park between Waco and Nacogdoches in east Texas.
Todd closed the acquisition of the 5,000-acre park and 2,400-acre lake on June 1, preparing to launch a legal battle in a case that has already been heard in the court of public opinion.
The Dallas-based developer blasted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in a letter to its members last week. The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife twice rejected an offer to buy the park, which has been leased free from an energy company since the 1970s, the company said.
“If the Commission can do it to the Todd family, they can do it to any rancher, farmer or property owner in Texas,” the company said of the eminent domain assignment.
Chief Executive Shawn Todd, whose company plans to turn the park into a $1 billion private resort with 400 luxury homes and a golf course, said Thursday when asked about the Texas park He was merciless when it came to dealing with the Wildlife Commission.
“This billionaire boys club of board members who are on board because of their political contributions now almost consider themselves Russian oligarchs,” Todd told real deal.
The committee does have a billionaire chairman, Buc-ee convenience store founder Arch “Beaver” Aplin III.
Aplin has said eminent domain or condemnation is a last resort to save “beloved parks.”
“The commission has zero interest in condemning farms, ranches and cropland,” Aplin said. “We did not take this decision lightly.”
Based on the land assessment, the state has 30 days to send Todd Interests a final offer for the park.
It was on the market for $110 million before Todd bought it, but developers say the lake’s land and water rights are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Carrington Coleman LLP held a press conference Thursday in downtown Dallas on behalf of Todd Interests. Monica Latin, managing partner at Carrington Coleman, said the new version, released June 2 by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, is riddled with misleading statements.
For example, the state reportedly offered $25 million to buy out Todd’s contract with the property’s previous owner, Vistra Energy. But Latin said Vistra was unwilling to accept that price.
“The message that this sends to companies and all these people who come to Texas … we say ‘we’re an open state for business,’ but they’re just saying that’s only for exceptional circumstances,” Todd said.
Regardless of Todd Interests’ legal action, the state can buy land through eminent domain, dallas morning paper report. But Todd said he hopes that if Texans hear the story behind the deal, they will support private ownership and oppose the decision.
“We hope the message gets out across the state and people will clearly see what’s going on,” Todd said.