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Old 03-14-14, 10:48 AM   #1
bbeasley 
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Supreme Court may have just put in jeopardy Rails to Trails existing and future?

Check out this recent court ruling..
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Old 03-14-14, 10:59 AM   #2
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It's a never ending war between US and THEM. "Bunch of bold, fat" bureaucrats are deciding how fit America must be, from behind their desks.
I do most of my yearly miles on Rails to trails in MI and surrounding states.
I hope someone smart will step in and shake their lazy asses lol
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Old 03-14-14, 10:59 AM   #3
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Good. In the case mentioned here, the "trail" was destined for private property.

I wouldn't want somebody running a trail through my yard, if they thought a county sewer easement allowed them to build trails. Similar idea.
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Old 03-14-14, 11:15 AM   #4
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Most of my summer miles are made on the local rail-trail. For the most part, the homes look newer than the trail around here.
The local kids seem to enjoy it, as they ride up and down the trail in the summertime like they own it. On the hottest days, its not uncommon to see a lemonade stand or two so it's proven that living near a rail trail can be profitable .
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Old 03-15-14, 09:32 AM   #5
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Green ways jack up property values...

They are a great investment just from the tax perspective.
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Old 03-15-14, 09:53 AM   #6
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Yup, a lot of reading here: Trails and property values
The only problem with Greenaways/Rails-to-trails is privacy issue for people whos houses are next to it. That sucks to have an abandoned trailway on your backyard for years, and then bunch of people using it and watching your every move thru your back windows Most opponents wory about people having access to their previously secured backyards, and stealing stuff and their organic carrots lol I think that having direct access to a nice trail is always a huge plus.
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Old 03-17-14, 03:59 PM   #7
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Get more funding so they can build them a privacy fence.
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Old 03-17-14, 05:03 PM   #8
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Property rights have nothing to do with property values.

The tracks running over the private property does not provide runners and joggers or cyclists the right to use the landowner's property for recreation.
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Old 03-17-14, 05:06 PM   #9
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Get more funding so they can build them a privacy fence.
Or how about get a couple billion to provide just compensation under the 5th amendment.

Taking people's property rights without paying them ain't Merica.
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Old 03-17-14, 07:31 PM   #10
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What the Marvin M. Brandt Case Means for America’s Rail-Trails



RTC TrailBlog What the Marvin M. Brandt Case Means for America’s Rail-Trails





On March 10, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States. The issue in this case was whether the federal government retains an interest in railroad rights-of-way that were created by the federal General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875, after the cessation of railroad activity on the corridor.
The Brandt property lies along the corridor of the Medicine Bow Rail Trail in Wyoming, a former disused rail corridor inside Medicine Bow National Forest that was converted into a public trail.
As the only national organization in America solely committed to defending the preservation of former railroad corridors for continued public use, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) filed an “amicus brief” in December 2013 supporting the established legal precedent that says the United States does retain an interest in the corridor.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in favor of Marvin Brandt. While RTC is disappointed by the decision, after examining the details of its potential impact, we believe that the vast majority of rail-trails and rail-trail projects will not be directly affected. Existing rail-trails or trail projects are not affected by this decision if any of the following conditions are met:
  • The rail corridor is “railbanked.” (This is the federal process of preserving former railway corridors for potential future railway service by converting them to multi-use trails.)
  • The rail corridor was originally acquired by the railroad by a federally granted right-of-way through federal lands before 1875.
  • The railroad originally acquired the corridor from a private land owner.
  • The trail manager owns the land adjacent to the rail corridor.
  • The trail manager owns full title (fee simple) to the corridor.
  • The railroad corridor falls within the original 13 colonies.
Click here for a downloadable infographic outlining the criteria above.
The ruling only affects non-railbanked corridors that were created from federally granted rights-of-way through the 1875 Act. And we know that most railroad corridors created under this federal law are located west of the Mississippi River.
Because there isn’t a federal database on federally granted rights-of-way, it isn’t possible to answer exactly how many miles of corridor this applies to. What we can say is that, unfortunately, the ruling will likely increase future litigation over these corridors. We anticipate more cases in the future in which the federal government will be forced to compensate adjoining landowners in order to maintain public access to some well-loved trails.
This can be a significant challenge for the trail community. We need to ensure that fear of lawsuits does not deter people from moving forward with trails that communities need and have a right to build.
The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the 10th Circuit Court, where RTC’s legal team will work to narrow the ultimate impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Since 1986, RTC's legal program has fought to preserve rail corridors as public recreation and transportation assets at the local, national and federal levels in more than 50 cases, as well as before Congress and administrative agencies. RTC is the foremost, and often the only, legal advocate for rail-trails in the United States, work that is fully funded by RTC members.


[HR][/HR]Posted Mon, Mar 17 2014 1:45 PM by Amy Kapp




Filed under: supreme court, Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust

What the Marvin M. Brandt Case Means for America?s Rail-Trails - RTC TrailBlog - Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
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Old 03-17-14, 11:55 PM   #11
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I haven't bothered to read the opinion because I'm lazy.

That said, the only people America cares about is the Forbes Four Hundred.

You must be new here.
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Old 03-18-14, 02:12 AM   #12
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I haven't bothered to read the opinion because I'm lazy.

That said, the only people America cares about is the Forbes Four Hundred.

You must be new here.
Supreme Court judges vary a lot from each other in terms of their "affinity" to the "Forbes Four Hundred" vs. "unwashed masses". At the present time, on average, they lean slightly towards the rich people in cases where underlying facts are sufficiently ambiguous. Time after time, you see split 5-4 decisions favoring the rich and corporations (e.g. Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (2010)) and it's always the same 5 vs. the same 4.

Here though the vote is 8 to 1. It's pretty safe to say that the decision was a straightforward application of law without any gray areas.
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Old 03-18-14, 04:51 AM   #13
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The decision may be legally proper, but can't his property still be forcibly purchased through eminent domain? Or is that just for cagers and highways?
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Old 03-18-14, 05:25 AM   #14
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The decision may be legally proper, but can't his property still be forcibly purchased through eminent domain? Or is that just for cagers and highways?
The government tried to take his land without any compensation let alone just compensation.

See the difference?

Sort of like the difference between a Thief/Squatter and a Renter.
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Old 03-18-14, 06:11 AM   #15
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Yes I see the difference. It costs money to make and maintain a bike trail no matter what. My main concern is that we continue to improve bike infrastructure, and that we don't loose bike trails that are currently in operation. Also after I saw this thread I listened to a podcast interview on the Outspoken Cyclist that helped explain the issue a bit.

Show #186 ? March 15, 2014 | OutspokenCyclist
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Old 03-22-14, 11:37 PM   #16
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Here though the vote is 8 to 1. It's pretty safe to say that the decision was a straightforward application of law without any gray areas.
Hey, don't let facts get in the way of a good partisan political rant!

On a more serious note though, yes, I was referring to abominations like Citizens United when I made that statement. See also Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, AT&T Mobility, Inc. v. Concepcion and others. And yes, it is the same five virtually every time.
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Old 03-23-14, 07:42 AM   #17
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Yes I see the difference. It costs money to make and maintain a bike trail no matter what. My main concern is that we continue to improve bike infrastructure, and that we don't loose bike trails that are currently in operation. Also after I saw this thread I listened to a podcast interview on the Outspoken Cyclist that helped explain the issue a bit.

Show #186 ? March 15, 2014 | OutspokenCyclist
It is quite simple, landowners should be paid for an easement. Just compensation.
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Old 03-23-14, 11:08 AM   #18
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It is quite simple, landowners should be paid for an easement. Just compensation.
Assuming you agree with the above statement I think this can be a sticky situation. If it had been done correctly at first the compensation would probably have been much less. Going back later it is difficult to get it right, because if it is a successful trail and has added value to the property then price is higher. Add to that the property owner has leverage in that he now owns something that someone else developed and the developer (state/county) has to secure the property or lose the entire trail system. I can't image a trail would be useful if it isn't continuous.

Also, I can't believe a Mod hasn't bounced this thread to the politics and religion forum.
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Old 03-23-14, 03:40 PM   #19
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Check out this recent court ruling..
Government took land for an easement for rail. Rail went away, property reverts back to rightful owner. Don't see the problem. Sotomayor apparently feels that the government has a right to take land from people and keep in regardless of use. Seems to be a rather radical view and dangerous view. Let's say the government takes your land for rail, then later decided to make it a protected species habitat. Then to protect the habitat further decides it's illegal for humans to live adjacent to it. Think it doesn't happen? Let an endangered species build a nest on your property and see what happens.
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Old 03-23-14, 06:56 PM   #20
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Assuming you agree with the above statement I think this can be a sticky situation. If it had been done correctly at first the compensation would probably have been much less. Going back later it is difficult to get it right, because if it is a successful trail and has added value to the property then price is higher. Add to that the property owner has leverage in that he now owns something that someone else developed and the developer (state/county) has to secure the property or lose the entire trail system. I can't image a trail would be useful if it isn't continuous.

Also, I can't believe a Mod hasn't bounced this thread to the politics and religion forum.
If something as basic as the 5th amendment and property rights is political in nature, we are in trouble as a nation.
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Old 03-25-14, 08:20 PM   #21
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Government took land for an easement for rail. Rail went away, property reverts back to rightful owner. Don't see the problem.
I went to a presentation last week concerning a rail-to-trail in North/North East TX. The Supreme Court ruling was specific to one type of trail. The trail here in our area is NOT affected. Essentially, speaking to Allez3's point, when the property was taken it was specifically for rail expansion. When the railroad ceases to use it, it isn't just 'abandoned' and left up for grabs. (In the case of landowners on both sides of the trail, who gets it?) Instead, it is "Railbanked". This means that the land is available for use by the public, but someone must take over care of it. Most rail trails have people assigned to manage them for specific sections.
Many trails fall under this provision so the land does not go back to the 'rightful owner'. The railroad would be the rightful owner.
I may be incorrect, but I think in the course of the presentation, the person explaining it said that the railroad could come back at some point in the future and reclaim the land and reinstall rails. (Don't quote me on this part though--it had been a long day and I was waiting for him to get to the pictures of bikes and trails.)
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Old 03-26-14, 11:15 AM   #22
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When the railroad ceases to use it, it isn't just 'abandoned' and left up for grabs. (In the case of landowners on both sides of the trail, who gets it?) Instead, it is "Railbanked".
Railbanking is not automatic. You have to have that blessed by the Surface Transportation Board. A railroad must get STB authorrity to "abandon" a line of railroad. During that procedure, it can be banked, but it is not automatic.

Once abandonment authroity is granted and steps are taken by the railroad to effectuate the abandonment (such as ripping up the tracks), what happens to the real property the rail line occupied depends on the type of property interest the railroad has. In many cases, especially in the east and midwest, the railroad purchased fee titles to their rights of way. In such cases, the railroad continues to own the real poperty post-abandonment. It can, among other things, sell the real estate, in whole or in part, or donate it to an organization for trail development. If, on the other hand, the grant to the railroad created only an easement, that easement is extinguished upon effectuation of the abandonment and the railroad loses all right to occupy or use the real estate. There are variations on this. For example, a railroad may have purchased a fee interest subject to reverter, which means that it owns the property (as opposed to having merely an easement) but that its ownership reverts to the original property owner (or his or her successor in the chain of title) once the line is abaondoned.

What interest the railroad originally received is, in most cases, determined by the law of the state where the subject rail line is located. In the recent case before the Supreme Court, the land for the right of way was granted pursuant to federal law, so federal law determined what interest the railroad received.
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Old 03-26-14, 11:41 AM   #23
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The decision may be legally proper, but can't his property still be forcibly purchased through eminent domain? Or is that just for cagers and highways?
I read the opinion when it was released. I thought I had posted about this, but that might have been in a similar thread about the decision.

It almost certainly can be condemned through eminent domain. He would be entitled to compensation.

As noted, this opinion is limited to a very distinct set of circumstances, and the decision was driven in large part by the fact that a long time ago, the government argued in another case that land grants under the statute at issue only conveyed easements, not fee titles. It did so because the raillroad there was asserting fee title and the government wanted title so it could exploit the mineral rights. In that case, the Supreme Court agreed with the government that a land grant under the statute only conveyed an easement. In this case, the government took a contrary position, arguing that a land grant under the very same statute granted fee title to the railroad and that when the railroad left, title reverted back to the government, giving it the right to maintain the trail through the petitioner's land.

What puzzles me is why the government decided to pay lawyers rather than use the money to condemn an easement to continue the trail use. According to the opinion, the right of way was 200' wide and ran for nearly a half mile through petitioner's property, making a total occupation of about 10 acres. I am no land valuation expert, but I have to wonder what sort of compensation would be "just" in that area. I would be even more puzzled if they did not need the entire 200' in width for the trail. That's a very wide trail.

Personally, I don't buy the petitioner's claim the trail ruined his view. I think he simply wanted to get paid. That is certainly his right, but be honest about it. My thought is that he didn't want to seem like a jerk by saying "Yep. This is all about money."

P.S. Memebers of the Supreme Court of the United States are called "justices," not "judges."
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