To the Editor,
On March 16 (Monday) the Ennis City Council was to vote on establishing a Sub-Regional Planning Commission with Palmer and Ferris that would give them all the legal status as a state agency. Thereby, having an equal seat at the table as government-to-government agencies where all requests for information and community issues SHALL by law be addressed regarding state and federal agency projects such as toll roads, high speed rails, utilities, etc. Simultaneously, that night Ferris City Council was hearing a presentation by Texas Concerned Citizens about joining Palmer and Ennis as a tricity collaboration forming the first Sub-Regional Planning Commission in North Texas that would bring local control back to rural and small communities in Texas.
Then on March 17 (Tuesday) there was a public meeting attended by nearly 350 citizens at Ennis High School regarding the impact the high speed rail would have on Ellis County. These community actions have raised the attention of the corporations who want to build the high speed rail.
The following is a robo-call to Ennis city residence on March 15-16. “Hello I’m calling on behalf of the school children of Ennis, Texas. I want to urge you to please call the Ennis City Council members and ask them to support Central Texas Railway because it generates millions in new revenue for the city of Ennis and the Ennis School District. Just one quick call can and will make a difference. The phone number for the City Hall in Ennis, 972-875-1234. Thank you!”
Federal Eminent Domain must serve the public good. However, the average price of $225 per one way ticket should not justify serving the public good. How about a small privately held Texas company where the majority ownership and funds a held by a foreign company, should that justify taking private property for the public good? Some legal opinions alleged that the railroad property (given federal Eminent Domain) cannot be taxed, yet the community, city and county will be required to pay for the security of the High Speed Rail (HSR). That means that Ellis County will lose all the taxes and production from a 34 mile stretch consuming several hundred acres to the high speed rail while affecting the county which produces about $160 million annually in agriculture. That production will be reduced while much of the agriculture lands around the HSR that will become inoperable resulting not only in lost revenue but lower property values. The numerous roads that will be cutoff while not having over or under passes would cause hardship to access for residence as well as farmers and ranchers, further lowering property value.
Now take in the lost revenue and lower taxes for the cities and county and you have fewer dollars for schools, not more as the robo-calls claimed. Some Ellis County residence considered the calls misleading and did not appreciate using their children as a scare tactic. Write or call all your elected officials to share your concerns.
By Marty Hiles,