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Section 7: Permanent School Fund Land

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All lands needed from Permanent School Fund Land for use as State right of way will be paid for in cash. The General Land Office (GLO) administers this land, and usually all they will provide to another agency is an easement. For that reason, an approved value will be needed for each parcel in addition to property descriptions and map for submission to the GLO. Whenever it appears that Permanent School Fund Land will be crossed, the files of the GLO will be an invaluable aid as the place to begin to gather title information. It would be well to start such title information from investigations made by a TxDOT employee of the records of the GLO. In order to expedite the search of the GLO files, the Department should lay out the locations of its proposed right of way on county maps, which are published by the GLO. References are contained on their county maps, which correspond to their filing system. The GLO will furnish copies of these county maps direct to the Department upon request. These properties are usually owned in fee by the State, but the State may have only obtained an easement. Further, some of these properties may be under lease or subject to a contract for deed with third parties.

After the proposed location has been placed on the GLO county maps, a search of their files will be made to establish the status of title on each property crossed. Their files will show who has been making payments of interest on land under contract of sale; who the current lessee is, if any, as well as who was the original proposed purchaser; which pipeline companies have easements on the property; and in those cases where the land has been sold, to whom the patent was issued. This information, when considered with information gathered on the ground by the Department, will be a considerable aid in ascertaining the various rights in the property.

Unpatented parcels not under contract of sale are to be secured by deed executed by the Commissioner of the General Land Office. Title will consist of a certificate from the GLO to the effect that full title rests with the State of Texas and that the land is paid for and patentable. The GLO advises that many tracts of land are under contract of sale; however, many purchasers under these contracts owe 100% of the principal but have kept their rights in the property by merely paying the interest due on the principal.

Unpatented parcels, which are under contract of sale, are to be secured by deed and executed by the owner of contract of sale. On each of these parcels, the GLO will set up a file, and upon receipt of the proper amount of money pro rata per initial contract of sale price, will mark this parcel as paid in full. As a supplement to the title policy or Attorney's title certificate, a certificate will be obtained from the GLO to the effect that the original title rests with the State of Texas, and that the parcel is paid for and patentable.

Before execution of a deed by the purchaser-owner, the Department should write the GLO or the ROW Program Office in Austin advising them of the fact that TxDOT is to purchase said land and request that they be furnished the amount of the principal to be paid in order that the title may be cleared. Upon receipt of this information, the usual procedure for securing warrants from the Comptroller's Office can be followed. A separate warrant will be obtained to pay the GLO this money out of the owner's original consideration. In addition to this payment, the GLO must receive the required property descriptions.

As to State owned lands which are under grazing leases, the Government Land Office can convey or transfer title as needed for highway purposes to TxDOT in accordance with Transportation Code, §203. 053(b). It is anticipated that TxDOT will acquire needed title from the GLO prior to closing with the lessee. The ROW Program Office in Austin will handle this phase with the GLO if requested to do so by the Department.

Under the provisions of Natural Resources Code, §51. 130 all improvements made by a lessee on such leased lands may be removed by the lessee upon the expiration of the lease or, at the discretion of the Land Commissioner, may become the property of the State if, in the original lease, the Commissioner and the lessee agree on adequate credit to be applied to the rental to be paid the State by the lessee, thereby allowing the lessee an agreed consideration. The standard lease form used by the GLO provides that the lessee shall have the right to remove fences within 60 days after termination of the lease.

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