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Public Statements

Issue Position: Real Estate - Abandoned Railroad Property

Issue Position

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Location: Unknown

Some of you own property next to an abandoned Railroad. According to recent Federal rulings, that land (to the middle of the track) belongs to you. If South Dakota got the railroad lines into Sioux Falls by a government Right of Way program in 1875, then all lands of abandoned lines are to go back to the property owner whose land it is adjacent to.

Federal Court has changed that law periodically. The most recent change this past year cites a South Dakota law (Barney vs. South Dakota) as "BAD LAW" which should be overturned. It can be challenged by homeowners bringing a Quiet Title Law Suit in local Superior Court. But until it is challenged, shrewd Sioux Falls developers will lay claim to this land. Seeking monetary gain is not wrong unless one gains it off the backs of the property owners who had this one chance at a little windfall. Once again, society must protect those who don't understand their rights or those who don't understand legalese.

I am in contact with the Bureau of Land Management and the National Archives to find out how the Railroad got their land. Although the National Archives hasn't found the maps yet - all signs so far look like most of our rails were granted by a right-of-way, which could mean the Railroad has no rights to sell the property. If a business person purchased the land from the Railroad via quit claim deed - he has only the same rights to the land that RR did, i.e., none after abandonment.

Sioux Falls has a lot of rail lines. As more and more are being abandoned we need to find the proper owners of this land.


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