Freestone County Commissioner’s Court voted to draft a letter to Texas Parks and Wildlife to hopefully dissuade them from using Eminent Domain on Wednesday to prevent Fairfield Lake State Park from being developed into a community with million dollar homes.
Most of the community of Freestone County, although they all love the State Park, do not want to condemn the land, removing property owner rights.
Dallas land developer, Todd Interests recently purchased the 5,000 acre tract of land, which includes the now non-operational Fairfield Lake State Park for over $100M. The sale completed on June 1st, with former owner Vistra, who leased the land to the state absolutely free for almost 5 decades.
Vistra listed the land for sale shortly after the destruction of Big Brown Power Plant, which was officially destructed in 2021. The loss of the Big Brown Power Plant and Mine was a blow to many in Freestone County, including residents at the time of its closure in 2018.
The mine and power plant was the largest employer in Freestone County since the 1970’s and the county has been a cash poor county since that time. Some employees retired, but most had to move their families to other parts of the state.
According to reports throughout the community, most citizens were petitioning the state to purchase the state park property and now the collective has changed with TWPD’s unanimous vote to condemn the property.
The letter reads:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s agenda to use eminent domain to save Fairfield Lake State Park is an abuse of power and government overreach. To use this action will be an infringement on private property rights. TPWD had ample notification and time to purchase this land before this property was listed for sale, but blatantly and irresponsibly failed to act.
Freestone County and Fairfield ISD stand to gain approximately $20 Million in tax revenue annually from this development. One-third of this amount is more than half of the total tax dollars Freestone County receives now from current property owners. The citizens of Freestone County lost a large portion of our tax base when the power plant and coal mine closed. For TPWD to steal an opportunity for us to replace that tax base would be selfish.
We are extremely disappointed in your actions and other state elected officials’ regarding this matter. As Commissioners of Freestone County, it is our duty to be good stewards of the money received from taxpayers and look to the future for what is best for the citizens of Freestone County. We have no doubt that this development will benefit Freestone County and local businesses for years to come and we implore the State of Texas not to proceed with eminent domain to seize the property.
The elected Commissioners of Freestone County do not like the idea of appointed commissioners who were derelict of their duty to make decisions which will affect the taxpayers of Freestone County.
We ask you to stop this now!
Signed by all 4 of the elected Commissioners of Freestone County.
Freestone County Judge Linda Grant continued with her own statement:
Freestone County began addressing the Park issue in 2019. We have not been in favor of eminent domain but have hoped the state and the buyer could reach an agreement. The tax revenue that this project promises will be a great benefit to the citizens of our county. I respect the Commissioners and their stand on this issue so I support this letter.
The letter will be sent to Governor Greg Abbott, TPWD officials, and other state officials.
Watch the video below to hear the discussion between community members and the Commissioners leading up to the decision.