TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) –The Travis County District Court granted an emergency temporary restraining order and injunction against AMTEX Housing – a California-based developer – for developing on the Alexander Farm – a Black-owned farmland that has been in the Alexander family for 175 years.
The temporary restraining order ceases any further development until a resolution is reached.
The Alexander Farm, in Pilot Knob, Texas – a few miles south of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport – was founded in 1847 by nationally recognized horse breeder Daniel Alexander, who at the time was enslaved, according to their website.
Though the farm was once operational, it no longer produces commercially. Black-operated farms only account for 1.4% of the country’s 3.4 million producers, according to the 2017 census of agriculture.
According to a press release from the farm, AMTEX began developing a portion of the farm. After being notified of the farm’s historical significance, the AMTEX continued its efforts, the release said. The Alexander family then filed for a temporary restraining order.
“What the developers did is just so utterly wrong and traumatic. They trespassed on our heirs’ property and razed the ancient thruway by which my family traversed our farm. This is the land that sustained my ancestors when they were enslaved. It sustained our family — their descendants — for generations since. The takers must be stopped, held accountable for their trespass against us and prevented from inflicting further harm to our family land,” Rosalind Alexander-Kasparik was quoted saying in the press release.
In a statement sent to KXAN, AMTEX said the following:
“AMTEX purchased the property from the Alexander family more than 2 ½ years ago. AMTEX commissioned a survey of the purchased property and has confirmed that all work has been within our property boundaries. Since recently learning of a temporary stay order, our attorneys have reached out to the Alexander family to assure them that areas outside our property’s boundaries remain undisturbed, including taking appropriate measures to mitigate any stormwater runoff.
“Litigation was not the first path of choice for the Alexander family,” said Ashton Cumberbatch, the attorney representing the family, in the press release. “But without open channels of communication, it became the only option to stop the offenses that were occurring on the Alexander Farm and to the Alexander legacy – both rich pieces of Texas’ heritage. This [temporary restraining order] is an important first step in preserving that heritage.”
Developers have constructed projects on the Alexander Farm in the past. In 1968, the Texas Department of Transportation used eminent domain to build portions of U.S. Highway 183, according to reporting from the Texas Tribune. Over 50 years later, TXDOT contacted the Alexander family to announce its plans to add lanes to the existing highway going through the Alexander Farm. The family is still fighting this project.