Texas Parks to use eminent domain to stop private development of Fairfield Lake State Park

Fairfield Lake State Park remains closed despite a unanimous vote to stop private development

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A popular state park south of Dallas has new life after the state decides to use eminent domain to stop the sale to a private developer.

The drastic and unanimous vote from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on Saturday is the next step in what is expected to end up as a lengthy court battle around the future of Fairfield Lake State Park.

The state park, and the land around it, have been privately owned for decades with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department serving as a tenant.

The approximately 5,000 acres of land went under contract with Dallas-based developer Todd Interests in 2021. Todd plans to build a private luxury community which would require permanently closing the state park.

TWPD's agreement as a tenant is set to end on June 13.

During the regular session of the Texas legislature, three bills were filed to stop the sale of the land from Vistra Energy to Todd Interests.  All three bills failed to pass. 

Developer Shawn Todd, addressed a Senate committee on May 1, speaking against one of the bills by citing Texas’ deep roots in respecting private property owner rights.

“When can government step into a transaction and covet something that is not theirs and want something that is not theirs,” Todd said then.

The answer arrived Saturday when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission held a special meeting, voting unanimously to condemn Fairfield Lake State Park in an effort to acquire the land – and stop the development.

Immediately following the vote, TWPC chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, read a second agenda item addressing the use of eminent domain going forward “The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission moves to instruct the executive director to prepare a commission policy restricting the exercise of the power of eminent domain to extraordinary and unusual situations, like Fairfield (Lake) State Park,” Aplin said.

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