Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dan Byfield, national property rights advocate, to speak in Coupland March 30

In the comment to yesterday's post, Eminent domain bill set for hearing March 25, Chris writes about the problems encountered by property owners with issues other than condemnation for transportation, such as energy and right-of-way. The Coupland Civic Organization is hosting a national property rights advocate on Monday, March 30, whose organization is involved in all these issues.

Dan Byfield, president of the American Land Foundation, a national property rights organization, will speak to the Coupland Civic Organization on Monday, March 30, in the Fellowship Hall of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland. The Coupland Civic Organization will host a spaghetti supper at 6:30 p.m.; the program will begin at 7 p.m.

Byfield will discuss the “391 Commissions” that he has formed in Texas to fight projects like the Trans-Texas Corridor. He says, “The American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range have joined efforts to teach local communities how to fight for and protect private property through a strategy known as ‘Coordination.’ Utilizing federal and state land use statutes, Coordination gives local units of government the power to bring government regulatory agencies to their table.”

These agencies are required by law to “coordinate,” meaning that they have to give notice of any plans or projects they are considering to the local unit of government, such as a “391 Commission.” The agency must take local plans and desires into account when making its plans. “The strongest aspect of Coordination,” Byfield explains, “is the government agencies have to make their plans, as closely as possible, consistent with the local plans.”

The first “391 Commission” is the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission in Bell County, which was founded in 2007 to fight the Trans-Texas Corridor. Byfield says, “In 2008, we went to over 20 locations utilizing Coordination, with nine in Texas. This year, we expect to get to over 40 communities implementing Coordination nationwide for every type of issue, including Endangered Species Act listings, water rights, zoning, transportation, conservation easements, oil and gas exploration, and dozens of other land use issues.”

In addition to discussing helping local communities fight for their property rights, Byfield will also speak on related legislative issues, such as eminent domain.

Dan Byfield has worked on property rights, water, and natural resource issues as a legislative staff member. He has lobbied on behalf of agriculture for the Texas Farm Bureau. He did legislative work on property rights matters in New Mexico, Texas, and Washington for the Farm Credit Bank of Texas. In 1993, he formed the American Land Foundation and serves as its president. The American Land Foundation assists landowners and other property rights organizations nationwide.

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