School District and Landowner Embroiled In East Texas Land Dispute - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/19/07-Henderson

School District and Landowner Embroiled In East Texas Land Dispute

Henderson ISD has plans to build a new primary school, but they say in order to do so, they need a certain four acres, owned by a city councilman. But that councilman says the school's offer is just not good enough.

Henderson's elementary schools are almost a century old. That's why the district has decided to build a brand new one on some 30 acres.

"There's one problem, there's a piece of land that's between the land that was donated to the district and fronts Highway 259 South," says Henderson ISD Superintendent Tommy Alexander.

The new primary school is going to be built on land that's already been donated to the district, but a battle is brewing over the four acres right next to it.

Timothy Ashmore owns those four acres. He bought the property almost eight years ago as an investment for his children.    

"When I bought it my wife said why are you buying a piece of property that's only 50 foot deep on the property down there, and I said well at some point in time this 400 acres that's behind us is going to be developed and when it does, they're going to need our road frontage and it's going to be worth something," Ashmore says.

But just how much is it worth? Henderson ISD says they need the land for their new school entrance. They've even offered Ashmore $60,000.   

"We definitely feel like, from what we've been told, that $15,000 per acres for these four acres is a fair amount of money to offer for that property," says Alexander.

But Ashmore doesn't think so. That's why he's asking for $150,000.   

"I think that's more than fair as a far as a price goes considering some of the other pricing that's been, that land's been selling for in Henderson lately."

Now, commercial real estate around Henderson does go for hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially frontage property like Ashmore's. But, the Rusk County Appraisal District says Ashmore's land is worth just 3,000 dollars an acre. 

"If it's not worth anything, then why do they want it, it must be worth something or they wouldn't want it," he says.

And now it seems both sides won't stop till they get what they think is fair.

"We're going to build our school there, we told the public we're going to build our school there, we intend to build it there," Alexander says.

Even if that means taking the case to court.

"I'll go however far it takes to get what I feel is right and I'm only asking for what's right," Ashmore explains.

The district says it plans to file eminent domain to get the four acres. That means a panel of experts will decide what the fair market value will be for land. If Ashmore is not happy with that figure, he says he'll appeal.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com.

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