Land Commissioner Decides No Vacancy - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/23/04 - Smith County

Land Commissioner Decides No Vacancy

It's been up in the air for months, but Tuesday Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced hundreds of East Texans could keep their land.

The land has been in dispute for months. Last year, a claim was made to a strip of mineral-rich land near the Red Springs, Sand Flat communities in Northern Smith County.

The vacancy was based on discrepancy between decade old surveys. Attorneys for the petitioner, Forrest Williams, argued surveys done since an original in 1835 were wrong, leaving some land unclaimed.

Attorneys for the landowners argued the surveys were all correct when based on that original survey and there was no unclaimed land.

If a vacancy claim was made, the land would become property of the Permanent School Fund, run by the state. Any mineral rights would also go to the state and the petitioner would receive 1/16 of any royalties.

The announcement doesn't end things. Either party has 90 days to appeal the case. Any future litigation would not, by law, include the Land Commissioners decision.

If no appeal is made within 90 days, the land can never be challenged again.

Chris Gibson, reporting

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