BUCKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A.

INTEREST GROUP ONE:
CITIZENS OF NORTHAMPTON TOWNSHIP
ADJACENT PROPERTY OWNERS
TEA PARTY PATRIOTS OF LOWER BUCKS CO.
NOTIFIERS

INTEREST GROUP TWO:
SEPTA
BUCKS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
NORTHAMPTON TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS
RAILS-TO-TRAILS
VERIZON
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION LOCAL
ENVIRONMEN TAL INITIATIVES, ICLEI, U.N.
NOTIFIED

cc: STATE REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT PETRI
CONGRESSMAN MICHAEL FITZPATRICK
PRESUMPTIVE CONGRESSMAN BRIAN FITZPATRICK

May 12, 2016

To: The Bucks County Commissioners: Robert Loughery, Charles Martin, Diane Marseglia
Northampton Township Supervisors: Larry Weinstein, Kim Rose, Barry Moore, Eileen Silver, George Komolasky

Re: Railbanking Abandoned SEPTA Line, Northampton Township

SEPTA sort of has control of a 4.5 mile abandoned railroad located within Northampton township that is under consideration by some or all of those named in Interest Group Two as a “Trail” for bicycling, running, jogging and walking. It is herein contended there are so many trails and trail opportunities within Northampton Township that the development of a trail on the SPETA railroad line within Northampton is completely un-necessary. It is further contended the property belongs to the adjacent property owners and that ownership should be spelled out by the Commissioners and Supervisors. Further, the Fifth Amendment was violated as well as the Civil rights to their property by the unconstitutional taking of the properties within Northampton Township.

On either side of the SEPTA centerline are private properties upon which properties the predecessors of SEPTA placed a railroad. It’s herein contended that those properties belong to the descendants of the properties which were taken and upon which the railroad was built and operated. The owners of those properties had their property rights further violated when the railroad was constructed and operated without compensation. In the interests of fairness and justice those properties must be “returned” to the owners of record and the present owners compensated for the takings.

It is unquestioned that the land underlying the so-called Right of Way, (ROW), of the abandoned railroad has always been the property of the adjacent property owners. At issue is the acquisition, use and transfer rights of the surface property.

The surface land should revert back to the adjacent property owners free of encumbrance or easement and the help of the Bucks County Commissioners and the Northampton Township Supervisors is the purpose of this communication. While SEPTA may be relying upon numerous laws, statutes and cases beginning with the acquisition of the ROW such reliance is no longer wise because the law relating to railroads has changed as have the laws relating to the construction of “RailTrails” aka. “Railbanking”.

The railroads of America have a grand history in what eventually became known as The United States of America. Railroads provided transportation of people and materials as horses were replaced by trains. Railroads and trains played a large role in the development of the United States from the industrial revolution in the Northeast during the years of 1810 to 1850 and to the settlement of the American West from 1850 to 1890. The rail system was largely complete by 1910 when highways trucks and cars began to replace the railroads and the trains and after the invention of the airplane by the Wright Brothers aircraft added to the replacement of most rail traffic. Railroads were often subsidized by state and local governments but rarely did they own them.

In the case of the SEPTA tracks in Northampton Township, the changes in the ownership of the land seems lost in mostly unrecorded history but there seems to never have been any contracts nor a proper conveyance of the properties to the predecessors of SEPTA. The surface and underlying land still seems to belong to the adjacent property owners.

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads in relevant part that property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. One important issue is that because the SEPTA land was never paid for it remains the property of the adjacent property owners. Courts have awarded judgments of millions of dollars to the adjacent property owners.

Civil Rights have been enshrined in America to a greater extent than anywhere else on the planet. Support for Civil Rights is the subject of Title 42 of the United States Code especially §1983 which supports in part that government should respect the Civil Rights of each citizen. Violations of those rights by government are called violations under color of law.

Interest group one seeks to have Bucks County and Northampton Township work to assure the property of the abandoned SEPTA railroad reverts to the adjacent property owners to provide them the peace of mind the ownership of property provides. That means no Rails To Trails on the Northampton township portion of the abandoned SEPTA railroad.

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