The following update about the BNSF Railway easement was sent this week to all residents with known email addresses on file at First Service Residential, our HOA property manager.
The Board wanted to provide an update to all that has occurred around the BNSF Train Track project that was thrust upon us when BNSF offered the HOA money for surface rights for 3 parcels of land along the track. These were parallel to the track and along the current Right of Way that BNSF already owns for extending a siding track from the north side of Phase 1 all the way to Grandscape Blvd. Phase 1 has always had the secondary Siding Track.
BNSF could have easily completed this project without our help via Eminent Domain, but wanted to be a good neighbor. They also volunteered that these surface rights they requested would eliminate the cost of building a retaining wall, which in return allowed them to finish the project sooner.
The only visual difference from our HOA viewpoint is when there are 2 trains needing to use the same primary track, one train will pull over at a slow speed, stop and wait on the siding track (approx 16′ closer than current track) until the other train passes. BNSF is a ‘For-Profit’ company so they do not want a train sitting still any more than we do. Nothing about the primary track changes as a byproduct of the siding track. The view in Phase 2 and 3 will be the exact same view variance that Phase 1 has experienced since Day 1.
We held a special Town Hall meeting on March 11, just for this discussion and to go into great detail.
We received direction from the residents (that included previous Kings Ridge HOA Board Presidents and Board members), to go after as much money as we can get since BNSF has the right to complete this project without involving us at all. We were told to get a deal done.
As this project unfolded we investigated TX Dot involvement, Quiet Zones, Purpose of a siding track, Border Improvements, where Locomotives will now rest (outside development boundaries) and countless other ideas, questions and requests of our neighbors with the end result being no amount of construction is going to make a difference in millions of pounds of train cars going by. Which is no different than what we’ve been watching for 20+ years. Constructing a 20-foot wall or trying to make these trains disappear via costly visual / sound abatement barriers simply were not practical and not a fair use of the HOA’s asset sale money which ended up at $506,000; $346,000 more than their beginning offer.
Knowing our Wall Repair project that started well before all this occurred was coming in at around $350,000+, this was a welcome relief as the Board was staring in the face of a special one-time assessment to every neighbor. Something we now should not have to do.
At the same time there appears to be a handful of residents who have adopted the idea that since they bought homes next to the track, those monies should be made available to them to solve what they believe to be BNSF’s infringement on their lots and their value. They would like to see your HOA funds used to solve their issue with BNSF adding a siding track.
Fact is, our HOA Development infringed upon the BNSF boundary; not the other way around. The track has been there over 150 years; 120 years longer than our HOA. BNSF had every right to do what they are doing so we chose to work with them to gain HOA funds versus foolishly fighting a losing battle against progress and the railroad agency that held all the leverage.
Our development has a multitude of very costly projects that have been delayed for years needing a cash infusion for completion (brick perimeter walls, proper tree maintenance, grass in place of bare ground in a variety of locations, fully appreciated entrances, replacement of lost trees, and much more). Our direction is to spend money generated by the surface rights sale (an HOA asset) in these areas listed which will benefit the entire HOA.
With more and more projects and businesses popping up in Grandscape, and as years go by, this all combines into background noise as part of the entire Grandscape Master Development. Progress and change is what built Plano.
This really is no different.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Steve Jacobson, President
Mike Seinera, Treasurer
Lance Schnell, Secretary
Ward Olgreen, Member at Large