Landlocked

AUTUMN OWENS/WD PHOTO

Jonathan Hobson presented information to the Parker County commissioners Monday morning about being landlocked from his 40-acre property in the northwest portion of the county. The commissioners ultimately denied his application request for the construction of a neighborhood road to his land.

After hearing both sides of the issue, the Parker County commissioners unanimously denied a landlocked resident’s application request for construction of a neighborhood road to access his property.

Jonathan Hobson owns 40 acres in northwest Parker County, Precinct 2, and said the commissioners court was the only way left that he could pursue getting access to his property through the Texas Transportation Code.

“My property is landlocked and I have no legal access, so I’m here to request the court to act and use their authority to establish a road. There are only three requirements upon my part — first, I must request a line connecting my property to a county road. I requested a section of land be condemned across my neighbors property and this is the least intrusive, practical, reasonable route to access my property. It’s along Mr. [Daryl] and Mrs. [Katherine] Francis’ fence line and directly adjacent to an existing right of way for a natural gas pipeline,” Hobson said. “No. 2, I must include the names of the residents who are affected by the property and I’ve done so in my affidavit. The third [requirement] is that I must explain to this court why this road is necessary.”

Hobson said he’s been locked off his property since September 2015 and was unsuccessful in offering to purchase right of ways from his four neighbors. Hobson hired an attorney and said he spent three and a half years trying to get an order issued for an easement, which was refused.

“Judge [Graham] Quisenberry repeatedly stated that we were in the wrong court and it was not his decision to make. I made it a point to attend every seminar over private property rights, I contacted every attorney that I could find that knew anything about this, I called the attorney general’s office, the state governor’s office and I went to law school and was told the same thing. This is my last means of getting access. If this court rejects my approval for a road, I’m locked out and my property is useless,” Hobson said. “I don’t live there, but I grew up there — there are two houses, barns, two tractors and other farm equipment a couple of trailers [on the property].”

Hobson did say he was able to access the property temporarily after getting permission from the oil field company.

“She told me it was conditional and would allow me to use that until I got my lawsuit settled. That temporary access ended in June of this year because my lawsuit was over in June,” Hobson said. “I’m being taxed by Parker County and yet my property and my possessions that I’m being taxed on are useless.”

Attorney John Westoff — who represents the Francis couple — said while they sympathize with Hobson, they were not the ones that created the issue.

“They’ve owned their land for over 50 years and have never been impressed by an easement across their property by Mr. Hobson. Mr. Hobson is not the original acquirer, he inherited it in 2015 and he was given his right to present to the district court and the court denied his claims, even dismissed some of them,” Westoff said. “Mr. Hobson’s father and mother failed to pursue and never got an easement across the property — mom ends up selling [her portion of] the property, no easement is reserved, and dad dies. My clients did not create Mr. Hobson’s problem and my clients should not be burdened with this problem. We certainly sympathize with those issues, but we did not create those and we shouldn’t be forced to suffer the burden of those requirements.”

The county would have had to pay for the road and Hobson would have been the one to maintain it, but the commissioners ultimately denied the request.

“It doesn’t seem to me that the Francises have done anything but just own property next door and we’re being asked to use taxpayer money to take their property for a road to an individual’s property,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said. “Although I can understand how this situation came to be, I don’t see how it’s their fault and it seems like a property rights issue to me. I don’t think we are obligated to do that. Although we feel for Mr. Hobson, it doesn’t seem to me from what I’ve heard today that this meets the requirements of a community road at all. It’s a county road to his property.”

Hobson was not happy about the decision and said he will continue to look at ways he can gain access to his property.

“Our government’s first and foremost responsibility is to secure the rights of its citizens and if my rights are being violated, they have a responsibility to protect those rights even over somebody’s private property rights,” Hobson said. “Now I’m stuck. I think the county taxpayers need to understand that if I can be locked off my property and the county refuses to do anything to help, the same can happen to them.”

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