Rails-to-Trails, The property owner’s side of the story 

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022

To the Editor, 

 

Rails-to-Trails, The property owner’s side of the story 

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People say how grand it would be to have the Rails-to-Trails in our area. And it may be if you aren’t a property owner along the Trails. It will affect the property owners’ lives 365 days a year. The sales pitch is that your property value will increase. That would be great if you plan on selling your property. Otherwise, the property owners are going to have to pay higher property taxes. 

I have lived on the same property for 61 years, and am a third-generation property owner. This is a property that my family has owned and paid taxes on since 1902. Many of the property owners, including myself, own the property to the center of the tracks. The railroad has an easement and/or right of way on private property. It’s borrowed property by the railroad. The railroad has not had to pay taxes on said property. 

The railroad could possibly gain an estimated 30 million dollars for selling the right of ways on property they don’t even own. The property owners, in turn, have to hire attorneys to sue the federal government for compensation for their property. Oh, by the way, said attorneys get 33% -35% of said compensation. The kicker here is that property owners still have to pay property taxes for any and everyone to walk, run, hike or bike on their property. We do not want compensation. We want to be left alone. 

Then, you have the question of liability on and/or near the trail. Since the property owners still own the property, attorneys have stated, if the trail users get off the trails and get hurt on your property you are liable. Unfortunately, there will be folks that choose to wonder. Would you want to be liable? 

 

My father told me a long time ago, there is never a right time to do the wrong thing and there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. He said, “If you truly understand what this means and use it in your life, the rest of it would take care of itself.”

 

Gary Walker 

Tryon