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(The Atlantic Cities)   Rails-to-trails projects are source of civic pride, place to exercise safely within the city, and candy store for sue-happy NIMBYs who get free federal money as compensation for land they never owned   (theatlanticcities.com) divider line 67
    More: Strange, NIMBY, just compensation, Downtown Seattle, Federal Circuit  
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5068 clicks; posted to Main » on 08 Nov 2013 at 10:26 AM (45 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-11-08 01:55:34 AM
That headline is incorrect. The people suing own the property the railroad or trail is on.

The railroad was built on an easement, which means they own the land but the railroad gets to build the railroad through it. Part of the description of the easement includes what uses the railroad can have on the land. That description did not include pedestrian or biking trails, so the people that own the land get more money for a new easement that includes those uses.
 
2013-11-08 08:25:06 AM
Welcome to first year property law. Today we will discuss the basics of easements.
 
2013-11-08 08:54:42 AM
Fun fact: railroads are exempt from state & local eminent domain laws.
 
2013-11-08 09:16:25 AM
If I had a rail-line going through my property, I would love it to be converted to a trail.

I would love it even more if I made money off it.
 
2013-11-08 09:26:45 AM

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: Fun fact: railroads are exempt from state & local eminent domain laws.


Transportation is interstate commerce at it's most basic
 
2013-11-08 09:29:20 AM

ArkAngel: Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: Fun fact: railroads are exempt from state & local eminent domain laws.

Transportation is interstate commerce at it's most basic


Yep. But interestingly, it also applies to shortline railroads and unused spurs.
 
2013-11-08 10:12:41 AM
What about the hobos? Where will they camp now?
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-11-08 10:23:48 AM
Many old easements in Massachusetts date back to a simpler time when train tracks were for running trains. When the trains stopped running the easement terminated by its own terms. 19th century lawyers and businessmen failed to anticipate critical parts of modern society, among them the STB, the domination of lawyers, and the involvement of the federal government in your daily walk.
 
2013-11-08 10:32:51 AM
Sorry, eminent domain is in the constitution, subby.  Gotta pay the owners.
 
2013-11-08 10:34:37 AM

vernonFL: What about the hobos? Where will they camp now?


We have a guy who seems to live on the C+O canal trail.  I figure that they can camp on a rail trail as easily as on a railroad track.  Probably more safely.
 
2013-11-08 10:35:19 AM
The way the story reads, the law allows the "land owner" free money. The fact that 8000 claims are pending just means that word gets around.  You'd be stupid to not take them up on it.

/ stupid law is probably stupid
 
2013-11-08 10:36:03 AM

Nabb1: Welcome to first year property law. Today we will discuss the basics of easements.


People can't be glad they don't have farking trains going through instead, for which they'd receive zero compensation? No, they've gotta sue.
 
2013-11-08 10:37:01 AM
About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists of telling would-be clients that they are damned fools and should stop.   Elihu Root
 
2013-11-08 10:39:24 AM
Since I regularly ride my bicycle to and from work on a rail-to-trail, and will again this afternoon, I'm getting kicks, etc.
 
2013-11-08 10:40:10 AM

ZAZ: Many old easements in Massachusetts date back to a simpler time when train tracks were for running trains. When the trains stopped running the easement terminated by its own terms. 19th century lawyers and businessmen failed to anticipate critical parts of modern society, among them the STB, the domination of lawyers, and the involvement of the federal government in your daily walk.


I went for a walk yesterday, and the Federal Government jumped out of the bushes and beat me up. The worst part is you can't sue the Federal Government so I have no recourse. :(
 
2013-11-08 10:41:53 AM

Krieghund: That headline is incorrect. The people suing own the property the railroad or trail is on.

The railroad was built on an easement, which means they own the land but the railroad gets to build the railroad through it. Part of the description of the easement includes what uses the railroad can have on the land. That description did not include pedestrian or biking trails, so the people that own the land get more money for a new easement that includes those uses.


Yeah but we can't get outraged about that.
 
2013-11-08 10:43:25 AM

patrick767: Nabb1: Welcome to first year property law. Today we will discuss the basics of easements.

People can't be glad they don't have farking trains going through instead, for which they'd receive zero compensation? No, they've gotta sue.


If I've got an open-and-shut case for being paid an easy few thousand dollars, I'm suing to get it.
 
2013-11-08 10:43:41 AM
billhensley.files.wordpress.com

Also, Rail Trails are awesome.  And they keep my bike off of the roads, so I expect some love for them here on FARK.
 
2013-11-08 10:51:54 AM

wxboy: patrick767: Nabb1: Welcome to first year property law. Today we will discuss the basics of easements.

People can't be glad they don't have farking trains going through instead, for which they'd receive zero compensation? No, they've gotta sue.

If I've got an open-and-shut case for being paid an easy few thousand dollars, I'm suing to get it.


More importantly, Lawyers who caught on to this are going to call you up and say "If you agree to let me sue on your behalf I'll give you a couple of grand if we win, and you will never have to do anything." I wouldn't turn it down.
 
2013-11-08 10:53:32 AM

Krieghund: That headline is incorrect. The people suing own the property the railroad or trail is on.

The railroad was built on an easement, which means they own the land but the railroad gets to build the railroad through it. Part of the description of the easement includes what uses the railroad can have on the land. That description did not include pedestrian or biking trails, so the people that own the land get more money for a new easement that includes those uses.


Doesn't the easement still exist, i.e. the feds can change it back to a rail with no red tape?
 
2013-11-08 10:53:58 AM
One thing I really miss about living back in Rochester, NY (besides Wegmans and DiBellas) is the large number or bike trails they have in the area. There were a lot of railroads in the area and so many of them have been turned into hiking and biking trails. They were always beautiful rides with a  bit of history mixed in.
 
2013-11-08 10:55:12 AM

fireclown: [billhensley.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]

Also, Rail Trails are awesome.  And they keep my bike off of the roads, so I expect some love for them here on FARK.


Amen Brother!

Attention farkers, this is now a hiking thread

Rails to Trails in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, my neck of the woods

www.fs.usda.gov

images.fineartamerica.com

fivefs.files.wordpress.com
 
2013-11-08 10:57:34 AM

wxboy: patrick767: Nabb1: Welcome to first year property law. Today we will discuss the basics of easements.

People can't be glad they don't have farking trains going through instead, for which they'd receive zero compensation? No, they've gotta sue.

If I've got an open-and-shut case for being paid an easy few thousand dollars, I'm suing to get it.


Must be nice to not give a damn if you deserve compensation. Gimme gimme!
 
2013-11-08 11:00:12 AM

patrick767: People can't be glad they don't have farking trains going through instead, for which they'd receive zero compensation? No, they've gotta sue.


That's not the point. A use was specified in the easement. This is not the use.

Cities and States cannot take railroad rights-of-way via eminent domain, like they would with normal property, so the owners are entitled to compensation from the government to change the easement.

Conversely, if the neighbors decided to put, say, a fence across the easement, the railroad could theoretically sue that they were infringing on the right-of-way (even if the RR had no intention of using it).
 
2013-11-08 11:01:29 AM

fireclown: Also, Rail Trails are awesome. And they keep my bike off of the roads, so I expect some love for them here on FARK.


You'd think wrong my friend.  Many of the bicycle-hating loons here are so zealous that the thought that someone is riding a bicycle anywhere is enough to send them into spasms of rage.
 
2013-11-08 11:04:27 AM
Got to say, the landowners are entirely in the right here. They actually own the land, the railroads just had permission to use it.
 
2013-11-08 11:05:03 AM
Yep, most people forget that the railroads used rail easements and limited licensing under color of law to build railroads. The original owners were seldom compensated. Because of competing interests, it was impractical and mush too expensive for railroad builders to purchase the land. Instead, they usually obtained a right to use it under the guise of it being a transportation right of way.

Under US law, if a railroad is abandoned, the current owners of the property through which the railroad runs can claim an interest. However, most folks are ignorant of this or don't bother.
 
2013-11-08 11:06:26 AM

patrick767: wxboy: patrick767: Nabb1: Welcome to first year property law. Today we will discuss the basics of easements.

People can't be glad they don't have farking trains going through instead, for which they'd receive zero compensation? No, they've gotta sue.

If I've got an open-and-shut case for being paid an easy few thousand dollars, I'm suing to get it.

Must be nice to not give a damn if you deserve compensation. Gimme gimme!


Well then lets run a trail through your property and let a bunch of smelly hippies all over it all the time and if any of them wander off onto your property proper and hurt themselves you can be liable and you had damn well let us do it for free you weepy moocher.
 
2013-11-08 11:06:38 AM

patrick767: wxboy: patrick767: Nabb1: Welcome to first year property law. Today we will discuss the basics of easements.

People can't be glad they don't have farking trains going through instead, for which they'd receive zero compensation? No, they've gotta sue.

If I've got an open-and-shut case for being paid an easy few thousand dollars, I'm suing to get it.

Must be nice to not give a damn if you deserve compensation. Gimme gimme!


I'd imagine that most people living next to an old rail corridor aren't the richest people in the world; rich people can afford to not live next to the tracks.  Any money can help, especially if it's so easy to get.  Not taking the opportunity on principle isn't the smart option for these people.
 
2013-11-08 11:08:16 AM
While we're here, is there a good trail network to get me from Maryland/south PA to Columbus OH?

/idly planning future trips.
 
2013-11-08 11:09:10 AM
One thing I've noticed: rail-trail projects REALLY piss off farmers (hey, that's more land that those bootstrappy sons of the earth can grab subsidies for). A lot of anti-bicycle legislation is Farm Bureau payback for rail-trails, though such legislation usually doesn't pass (fortunately).

Example: Texas SB238 in 2001 would have banned groups of more than 3 cyclists from farm-to-market roads, required slow moving vehicle triangles on bikes, and all sorts of other bullshiat. It was sponsored by state senator Jeff Wentworth at the behest of the Farm Bureau after a rail-trail was put through in Blanco County. The Texas Bicycle Coalition raised enough of a ruckus that the bill died, but this crap seems to pop up over and over again. Right-wing radio blowhards are no help.
 
2013-11-08 11:15:53 AM

fireclown: While we're here, is there a good trail network to get me from Maryland/south PA to Columbus OH?

/idly planning future trips.


I don't know about to Columbus, but the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O canal trail will get you from DC to Pittsburgh.
 
2013-11-08 11:18:19 AM
We have some nice bike trails here in Albuquerque, for mixed use of walker snd bikers. I have gripes about both.As a responsible bike rider, I always make sure to call out "on the left!" before passing people.Some are courteous, some act all butthurt when you go past, as they're busy yapping and their little yappy dogs on a 20 foot leash, or walking side by side, sometimes 4 wide, acting offended you exercise the rules properly. On the other hand, I've had issues with signs stating no motorized bikes, to have seniors who have gas motors on their bikes shoot past, only to get upset over their having to slow down. If you're going to have a motor, obey the rules of the road. Many others are very nice.  Since we're all older, play by the rules, and it'll all be okay.
 
2013-11-08 11:22:47 AM

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: fireclown: While we're here, is there a good trail network to get me from Maryland/south PA to Columbus OH?

/idly planning future trips.

I don't know about to Columbus, but the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O canal trail will get you from DC to Pittsburgh.


I did that ride this summer, three nonconsecutive days.  Great ride, but getting back from Pittsburg to home (hagerstown MD) was kind of a pain because Amtrack makes you box the bike, and won't let you unload checked baggage until DC.  If any farkers care to join a hopeless cause, hassling Amtrack to allow ride-on service on the Capital Limited would be a good one.  It would make managing the trail a lot easier for a lot of people.
 
2013-11-08 11:27:59 AM

fireclown: If any farkers care to join a hopeless cause, hassling Amtrack to allow ride-on service on the Capital Limited would be a good one.


I think they literally just changed that policy (at least for certain lines).
 
2013-11-08 11:29:55 AM

Texas Gabe: fireclown: [billhensley.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]

Also, Rail Trails are awesome.  And they keep my bike off of the roads, so I expect some love for them here on FARK.

Amen Brother!

Attention farkers, this is now a hiking thread

Rails to Trails in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, my neck of the woods

[www.fs.usda.gov image 850x409]

[images.fineartamerica.com image 850x680]

[fivefs.files.wordpress.com image 500x375]


Cool! I grew up skiing at Cloudcroft.  That track always meant we were getting close (coming from Las Cruces).
 
2013-11-08 11:33:13 AM
aaaand once again why we can't have nice things.

It is still a transportation easement, just a different mode.

They should amend the law and tell these jackanapes to get bent.
 
2013-11-08 11:33:29 AM

fireclown: I did that ride this summer, three nonconsecutive days.


I want to do that one of these days, but I'm not a strong enough rider for that kind of endurance. It is nice, however, to know that the infrastructure is available to me, should I choose.
 
2013-11-08 11:33:31 AM

wxboy: I'd imagine that most people living next to an old rail corridor aren't the richest people in the world;


Developers tend to knock down the crappy housing next to the rail and build nice housing next to the trail.

A lot of the people suing are large property owners outside of the cities. Ranchers, farmer, and what not. Those people tend to be land rich and cash poor.
 
2013-11-08 11:36:06 AM

meat0918: Doesn't the easement still exist, i.e. the feds can change it back to a rail with no red tape?


Yep, and I'm sure we'll eventually see a story on Fark about someone that's upset because they bought a nice house next to a trail and now the feds are turning it into a railroad.
 
2013-11-08 11:42:30 AM
An easement would mean that the property is listed as part of the plot the landowners have and the railroad had built a rail corridor across it. This sounds like rail corridors that are adjacent to the properties and therefore are not easements, but rather just a power grab by the landowners. In the U.S., virtually all rail networks and infrastructure outside the Northeast Corridor are privately owned by freight lines, which would suggest that an easement is not present in those many cases where the freight company owns the corridor.
 
2013-11-08 11:48:29 AM

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: fireclown: I did that ride this summer, three nonconsecutive days.

I want to do that one of these days, but I'm not a strong enough rider for that kind of endurance. It is nice, however, to know that the infrastructure is available to me, should I choose.


Amtrack runs the Capital Limited along the route, and there is a BWI shuttle service that runs all the way out to Frostburg once a day who will schlep your bike and you for about $15.  There is a cheap but halfway decent hostel in Frostburg and a cheap but pretty good hostel in Rockford PA as well.  Cell coverage is really spotty from Hancock to about Cumberland, and from PA to just about pittsburgh.  It's a very do-able project.  The plan for 2014 is to do the damn thing in two nonconsecutive days.  It's going to be in the middle of summer, and I'm thinking lights are going to come into play.

Go do the silly thing.  It doesn't matter how many trips it takes, and they will get longer.  I did the C+O with a friend of mine who could only manage 20 mile days at the start of the summer.
 
2013-11-08 11:52:06 AM
The trail group I volunteer with has a couple hundred miles that are 'railbanked' officially, but are not easement/reversionary.  The MoPac was flat-out there before most of the settlement, owned the ROW, and paid taxes on it for a century.  As do we now (as a non-profit, county taxes generally waived).

Hasn't kept dozen of NIMBYs, greedheads, and patriots from trying to sue for "their property rights". Also hasn't kept several of them from wanton destruction of segments of trail, booby-trapping things, or firing warning shots over trail riders.

Fortunately, most people that are hateful farts like that? They stroke out and die eventually.  Their kids sell the farm, almost inevitably, to someone who wants it  specifically because it is on a rail-trail.
 
2013-11-08 11:56:43 AM
I love cycling on rails to trails corridors, but it sucks when the natural scenery is interrupted by a bunch of identical backyards in some McSubdivision.
 
2013-11-08 12:06:50 PM
Subby left 'mugger havens' out of his rails-to-trails list.

/At least that's how it works on the American Attacko Trail.
 
2013-11-08 12:35:03 PM

fireclown: I did the C+O with a friend of mine who could only manage 20 mile days at the start of the summer.


Does San-Mar Childrens' Home still do the C&O towpath ride every year?  I wanted to do that back when I lived in the area and never got around to it.

And where was the photo you posted upthread taken?

Part of the WMRT runs through my family's property west of Hancock.  I love getting to ride up there (which is rare, unfortunately).
 
2013-11-08 12:48:44 PM

onzmadi: aaaand once again why we can't have nice things.

It is still a transportation easement, just a different mode.

They should amend the law and tell these jackanapes to get bent.


So the fact that it's legally their property means nothing to you? If the city wants to use it that's fine, but they better pay for it. Just because the railroad used it for decades doesn't mean it's up for grabs.
 
2013-11-08 01:04:17 PM

To The Escape Zeppelin!: onzmadi: aaaand once again why we can't have nice things.

It is still a transportation easement, just a different mode.

They should amend the law and tell these jackanapes to get bent.

So the fact that it's legally their property means nothing to you? If the city wants to use it that's fine, but they better pay for it. Just because the railroad used it for decades doesn't mean it's up for grabs.


Though as I understand it, and somebody mentioned it upthread, the adjoining property owner may not hold title to the land. Way back when they were laying out the railroads west of the Mississippi,the feds sold alternating sections along the right of way to the railroad, so they would own 1 section on the north side, then one on the south side, for each mile of run if I understand it.

Once they paid the liens off, the railroads sold the land that didn't include the ROW. Now what happened to that piece after they abandoned the ROW is hard to tell. It may not belong to the property owner if the title never included it in the first place.

I say fark it. We need more rail in this country anyway, maybe the feds should just start laying new track along these disputed easements, and the NIMBYs can listen to freight traffic rolling by instead of having to look at somebody on a bicycle once in a while.
 
2013-11-08 01:05:25 PM
I always liked this program. Seems one of the few smart things governement has done. They were working on one of the trails near me for a while. Hope they fixed the bridge, people kept trying to burn it down.
 
2013-11-08 01:06:18 PM
If it is an easement situation, (and some comments in this thread sure cast a lot of doubt about how that may or may not be the case with all or some of the trails), I could definitely see the owners wanting compensated for the change in use.  If you bought a property with an old railroad running through it with the understanding that at some point that track could be used for a train again, that's a different scenario than that the public at large could be free to roam that stretch that runs through your property.  People milling around is very different from a train chugging through.  Yes, ideally, the people would all be cool people just out for a little exercise that would be quiet and respectful and leave the place clean and mind their own business.  But the reality of public access isn't always that way.  A train's not going to leave a bunch of garbage laying around or get your animals riled up or  swipe things off your property or wander onto your property and get hurt and sue you. A train isn't nearly as disturbing to your privacy (and country people tend to enjoy that part about the country) as people being around.   A trail where people  you have no control over or choice about are allowed to gather is a whole different story.   

When my family bought land out in the country, we gave the utility an easement to run poles for electric service to the area through our land.  It was with the understanding that it would be for utility poles.  We would have had an issue with it if at some point the law changed and they created a loophole so that the land could be "pole banked" so that technically they could use it for electrical poles again someday but for now they were going to use it for a long narrow public park. We kept horses.  Electrical poles just stood there.  They didn't bother the horses and the horses didn't bother them.  I don't know that it would have the same if people were invited to be there.  It'd have just been a matter of time before someone got drunk and tried to saddle one up that wasn't ready and got bucked off or tried to pet a mean one and got kicked in the teeth and we got sued.  So as much as part of me wants to say "This is why we can't have nice things!" and grumble at the folks who are making a fuss about turning an abandoned railway into something for people to enjoy, I have to be a little sympathetic.
 
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