State of Texas Attempts to Preserve Fairfield State Park through Eminent Domain
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has recently decided to pursue the power of eminent domain to preserve Fairfield State Park. The proposed acquisition is somewhat unusual because TPWD was given the option to purchase the property voluntarily before it was sold to Todd Interests, a developer which intends on building a multi-million dollar gated community and golf course on the land.
Located southeast of Dallas in Freestone County, the 1,820-acre park sits beside Fairfield Lake as part of a larger 5,000-acre plot. TPWD had been leasing the property free-of-charge for 50 years from the previous owner, Vistra Energy. When Vistra decided to shut down their nearby power plant in 2018, they gave TPWD the option to purchase the land outright for $110 million, which the state declined. The state counter offered to purchase the park parcel separately, but Vistra desired to sell the entirety of the property.
The park remained operational until Todd Interests made the final purchase in spring 2023. TPWD attempted to purchase the property from Todd Interests for $25 million, but the offer was rejected. The state then began to consider eminent domain in a final attempt to preserve the park.
Photo of Fairfield State Park courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Final Consensus on Property Value Will Determine the Park’s Fate
The next steps in the case include determining the appraised value of the land and just compensation for Todd Interests. The appraisal could be higher than the original $110 million value due to increased land values and remainder damages. TPWD will likely begin the condemnation process by making an initial offer, but there’s a potential for litigation if Todd Interests isn’t satisfied with the state’s appraisal and offer.
If you are contacted by a State agency like TPWD seeking to survey or appraise your property and want to learn more about your eminent domain and condemnation rights, contact the attorneys at Barron, Adler, Clough & Oddo, PLLC.