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Pate Ranch owners sue XTO Energy over pipeline

XTO Energy is accused in a lawsuit of improperly taking land for a natural gas pipeline and compression station.
XTO Energy is accused in a lawsuit of improperly taking land for a natural gas pipeline and compression station. Star-Telegram archives

The new owners of the Pate Ranch development southwest of Fort Worth along the Chisholm Trail Parkway are suing XTO Energy, alleging that the company built a natural gas pipeline without making the required compensation.

Pate Ranch Land L.P., which is owned by Provident Realty Advisors, says in a lawsuit filed in Tarrant County civil court last week that XTO, which got a state permit for the gathering system in 2013, neglected to condemn the land through eminent domain as required by law.

XTO Energy built a 6.6-inch pipeline on the property as well as structures that include a compressor station, the lawsuit says. The land is south of Altamesa Boulevard and Dirks Road, bordered on the west by Chisholm Trail Parkway.

“They paid zero,” said Craig Albert, the Dallas attorney who is representing the new owners, who completed their purchase of about 470 acres two weeks ago. “They neglected to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. … It impacts our usage so there needs to some kind of compensation paid.”

Albert speculated that ultimately XTO may be on the hook for “meaningful, seven-digit compensation.”

XTO Energy spokeswoman Suann Gutherie said Tuesday that the company had not been officially served and had no immediate comment.

The lawsuit contends that XTO took the property through what is known as “inverse condemnation,” or taking property but failing to give the required compensation.

Provident Realty, a Dallas-based real estate firm, bought the land from 13 trusts tied to the late A.M. Pate Jr., according to Tarrant County deed records.

In documents filed with the city of Fort Worth, the developers said they plan to use about 238 acres for single-family homes, 136 acres for mixed-use development and 93 acres for commercial.

“The proposed development is intended to be a mixed-use gateway into southwest Fort Worth due to its proximity to Chisholm Trail Parkway, Bryant Irvin, Altamesa/Dirks Road and the future proposed commuter rail station at Sycamore School Road,” city zoning documents state.

But in the lawsuit the owners say the presence of the gathering system will affect their use of the property. It said XTO took the property through what is known as “inverse condemnation,” which failed to provide the required compensation.

They’ve gone silent. … You can hear the crickets chirping.

Craig Albert, attorney for landowners

“The taking has occurred without first complying with the statutory requirements necessary to condemn the property and without paying any compensation,” court documents state.

Albert said XTO, which is owned by Irving-based Exxon Mobil, is well versed in what is required before taking land for a pipeline, so the owners were surprised that no money had changed hands.

“They are pros at doing it the right way so it caught our attention,” he said. He said the new owners reached out to XTO before suing but got no response.

“They’ve gone silent. … You can hear the crickets chirping,” Albert said.

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

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