The war of words continues.
The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and its chairman, Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, have been at the forefront since the park’s board voted unanimously on June 10 to impose eminent domain to save the East. Lake Fairfield State Park in Texas has been heavily criticized over the past month.
Todd Interests founder Shawn Todd strongly opposed the decision after his company bought the 5,000-acre property from Vistra Corp for more than $110 million and plans to build a $1 billion luxury resort community. Freestone County, where the land is located, supports the project and says the development is expected to generate $20 million in annual tax revenue for Freestone County and the Fairfield Independent School District.
Todd, Freestone County Commissioners and the Real Estate Board had sent an open letter to the State Department last month opposing the use of eminent domain and promoting the property rights of private landowners. Aplin made multiple attempts to respond without success.
But on July 6, dallas morning paper Published an op-ed written by Aplin, who also owns Buc-ee convenience stores, explaining why eminent domain is the “appropriate way” to save Lake Fairfield State Park.
The chairman responded to the criticism, writing that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service “has had good-faith discussions and has repeatedly offered to buy 1,800 acres of parkland, or even the entire 5,000 acres, from the original owners and real estate developers. The land ” “, in the months leading up to the sale.
Before the deal deadline, Todd Interests made an offer of $20 million plus fees to buy out Todd Interests’ contract with Vistra, Alpin wrote.
The op-ed came out the same day Shawn Todd called a news conference in Freestone County and said he had offered $30 million to rebut the offer, but the Proposal not accepted.
Todd said the council’s eventual vote on eminent domain or “condemnation” was nothing more than a show, as he had received a letter from the council two days earlier saying it would condemn the land.The Texas Parks and Wildlife Service confirmed that the commission sent a letter on June 8, but it was part of the denunciation process and did not affect the vote, the Dallas Morning News reported. report.
“Even if we decide to condemn the land, we are still willing to reach an agreement that will save the state park and benefit all parties. Losing a cherished state park now would be a devastating outcome, which is why TPWD has spared no effort to save the fee. Lake Field State Park,” Aplin wrote.
Todd said he first met Aplin in Dallas in October, when he was negotiating with Vistra about a possible deal for the park land. Todd said Aplin told him he had no intention of getting involved in private business deals, but that it would be “very embarrassing” if the park management lost a park during the park’s 100th anniversary. According to the National Association of State Park Directors, Texas ranks 35th in the nation for park area per capita.
“This has nothing to do with the park or my real estate deal,” Todd said. “I’m talking about private property rights. This is the public, shameless abuse of power by politically appointed individuals, not elected individuals… to wrongfully take what doesn’t belong to them.”
Todd reportedly paid $110 million for the property, but he believes it’s worth about $230 million. In the event of an eminent domaine sale, an independent appraiser will determine its value.