AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — More details have been released regarding a court case out of the 108th District Court in Potter County related to an easement dispute between two of the current landowners of the property where the Amarillo location of the Buc-ee’s Travel Center chain was previously announced to have been located.
How did we get here?
According to court documents filed in late April in the 108th District Court in Potter County, Speedco Inc. out of Dallas filed a petition against Attebury Farm, LLC out of Amarillo regarding an easement on the property in late April. This easement, located off of Juett Attebury Rd., where the Amarillo location of Buc-ee’s is planned.
Officials from the Buc-ee’s chain previously told MyHighPlains.com that they have not yet purchased land at their planned site in Amarillo, citing a land dispute among the current owners of the property.
In February, the Amarillo City Council approved an agreement with the Buc-ee’s Travel Center chain, establishing the planned construction of a $30 million travel center at the southeast corner of E I-40 and Airport Blvd. According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, the center is expected to be around 53,000 square feet on around 20 acres of land currently owned by Attebury, Speedco and Roserock Holdings LLC out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
According to previous reports, the property that the Buc-ee’s location is planned to be established on currently consists of undeveloped land as well as a road that leads to the local SpeedCo business, which advertises oil and lube, repair and tires. According to the Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores’ website, Love’s purchased Speedco, a national network of service locations that provides quick lube and inspection services to the trucking industry, in September 2017.
What is the easement situation on the property?
The court documents state that an initial easement agreement was made in January 1997 between Attebury Farm Partnership and Michael C. Hughes, the owner of the land that the SpeedCo business currently sits on. Since the initial agreement was made, that property has changed hands a number of times, ultimately being sold to Speedco in December 1998, including the rights and the interests to the easement.
At the time, the agreement said that within 18 months from the date of the easement, the grantee at the time was “obligated to complete the pavement and curbing on the easement,” in a way that met the expectations of the city of Amarillo, which ultimately had to approve the project.
The agreement also stated that if the paving and curbing project was not completed within 18 months of the agreement, the agreement will no longer be valid and the land will revert back to Attebury Farm Partnership.
Right now, the easement, which is a 3.788 acre tract of land, serves as a paved road just off of Juett Attebury Rd. that goes to the back of the SpeedCo business, giving trucks the chance to exit the business and either go east or west onto I-40. Speedco has used this easement for its business since 1998.
When did the conversation between the two entities allegedly change?
Officials from Speedco said in the court documents that in September 2021, Attebury reached out to Speedco, requesting a relocation of the easement in relation to an “unspecified development” on the land. Officials claim that until April 2022, all communications regarding the easement “focused on whether Speedco was agreeable to its relocation.”
“Speedco did not become aware that the proposed development of the (land) was to be a Buc-ee’s location until February 2022,” the documents read. “After being approached about relocating the easement, Speedco informed Attebury that it had no interest in moving the location of the easement because it would be less convenient for its customers.”
After April 2022, Speedco officials claim Attebury said that the easement agreement from 1997 was allegedly not valid beginning in July 1998 after the owner at the time did not follow the paving and curbing language outlined in the agreement.
After July 1998 allegedly invalidated the agreement, the documents claim that Attebury gave permission to Speedco to use the easement for the last 20+ years.
“Attebury was revoking this alleged permissive use going forward,” the petition from Speedco reads, referring to April 2022. “Attebury informed Speedco that it planned to erect a fence across the easement beginning on April 25, 2022, so as to restrict Speedco’s access and use of the easement.”
What is Speedco arguing?
In the petition, Speedco is arguing that the easement agreement should still be in place, arguing that Attebury does not have any basis to restrict its access. Officials said that the driveway has been in existence ever since Speedco was located there, with the business claiming that they have “never been informed of any issues or problems with the paved driveway… by the city of Amarillo.”
Officials from Speedco said in the documents that the motivation for Attebury to reclaim the easement is related to the potential of “severe financial penalties” related to the Buc-ee’s agreement if the easement is not relocated, stressing that it is unrelated to Speedco’s use of the easement.
In the documents, Speedco is asking for multiple things, including for the easement agreement to remain in place as well as to remove the barrier blocking the business’s use of the easement. Officials claim that Attebury previously relayed to Speedco by “its words, actions and/or inactions” that the business could use the easement, which was initially put in by the previous owners of the property. Officials said that Speedco believed what they claim Attebury said through its communications, actions or inactions.
“There would have been no purpose in constructing such driveway if Speedco’s predecessor in interest did not reasonably believe and rely on Attebury’s promise that an easement existed… It is clear that Attebury now seeks to ignore the facts, rewrite history and claim that the easement does not exist solely because it stands to suffer damages in relation to its dealings with Buc-ee’s. However, Attebury should not be permitted to ignore the history of Speedco’s use of the paved driveway as part of its operation of the store simply because it is inconvenient.”
Speedco is also requesting in the petition that it receives “injunctive relief” from the time Attebury has the easement blocked. Officials say with the barrier of the easement, it is difficult for them to operate the facility, making it difficult for trucks to exit the facility.
How did Attebury respond to Speedco’s argument?
In their response to the initial petition, Attebury denies the allegations made by Speedco. According to court documents, Attebury continued to stress that Speedco’s use of the property “has been permissive” but the permission has been taken away as of April 4.
Officials with Attebury referenced the original easement agreement, claiming that the paving and curbing portion of the agreement was not met within the 18 months after January 1997 and automatically became invalid after that time.
Officials from Attebury said that continued use of the easement by Speedco since permission was taken away on April 4 “constitutes tresspass for which (Attebury) seeks damages.”
Ultimately, Attebury hopes the court will enter a judgement, claiming that the easement agreement is no longer valid, giving them the opportunity to move it.
How did the judge respond and where do things currently stand?
According to court documents filed May 10, Judge Doug Woodburn, the judge overseeing the case in the 108th District Court in Potter County, denied Speedco’s request for relief “in its application for temporary injunction “after looking over the documents.
As of Tuesday, the road located off of Juett Attebury Rd., which previously was serving as the exit for the Speedco location off of E I-40, continues to be blocked off.
This story is developing. Check with MyHighPlains.com for updates