Project SH 68 is a highway-mainline project currently underway in Hidalgo County that’s sure to affect plenty of Valley residents. Eminent domain is a legal clause that will most likely come up during the project’s enforcement and is a topic that very few Texas citizens are familiar with, let alone know how it’s enforced within state law. Let’s talk about what this clause is, how it applies in Texas and what you can do if you’re ever affected by it.
What it Is
Eminent domain is the power the government has to take property from homeowners to be used for public use. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents the federal government from doing so if the owner is not compensated accordingly in return. For example, if a government body or other entity seizes a property or a portion of one, it must, by law, provide monetary compensation. This compensation must be equal to what a landowner would receive on the open market for the property.
Eminent Domain in Texas
Article I, Section Seventeen of the Texas Constitution prevents the seizure, damaging or destruction of private property for public use if an owner isn’t adequately compensated. Under Texas law, an eminent domain case must meet three criteria:
- The area must be a private property within state lines
- If seized, the property must be used in a way that will benefit the general public
- An owner must be properly compensated
What Land is Used For
The private entity or government that condemns a property will most likely use it for some sort of public use. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- Large projects like shopping centers, ballparks and arenas
- Water and sewer lines, main lines, running gas pipelines, etc.
- Highways, roadways, bridges, etc.
Make sure to browse the State of Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights for more details about what you are entitled to when dealing with eminent domain.
Below is a quick rundown of what an eminent domain situation can be like:
- An agency interested in your land hires an appraiser to determine your property’s worth. During this time, you can seek legal representation.
- If an agreement isn’t made, a public hearing is scheduled where the agency must show proof of the greater good the project will provide the community.
- The agency then files with the Superior Court. You are then entitled to challenge the complaint.
- Our attorneys will receive appraisal reports and establish a fair market value for the land.
- Parties come together for an agreement.
- If no agreement is made on value, a condemning agency will make the offer.
- A trial will be set to determine the value of the land and hear any other pertaining issues
We’re Here to Help
Whether you’re interested in knowing more about eminent domain or have an issue with the condemnation process, we encourage you to contact us immediately. The entire process can be complex and confusing for landowners, but we’re here to help make it simple for you. Contact us today for more information.