Property ownership is perhaps one of the biggest components of what we call the “American Dream”. You buy a little slice of paradise, wherever it may be, build a home or business, and enjoy if for as long as you want. However, the government can use eminent domain to take property from owners (with adequate compensation) for public use. This is exactly what Rio Grande Valley residents, specifically those from Donna, may be looking at with the advancement of Project SH 68.
Recent Developments and the Potential Impact
In May of last year, we brought you the story of Project SH 68, a plan to develop a 22-mile highway that is meant to improve north-to-south mobility in the Valley. While officials were still assessing the project this time last year, the route for SH 68 has now been selected and it may have a considerable impact on Donna and Hargill landowners.
According to the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Transportation Plan, SH 68 is being described as a “4-lane divided rural highway facility with the potential for main lanes and overpasses”. The project would require the construction of the 22-mile highway and an estimated 1,100 acres of right-of-way. The plan additionally describes the project as being erected in a 350-foot typical right-of-way width, with proposed grade separations needing up to 400 feet of right-of-way.
Perhaps the most alarming piece of information in the plan is the fact that the project can potentially displace close to 102 residents and eight businesses. While the government is required to provide “just compensation” for this property, it’s easy for property owners to become perplexed by technicalities and the difficult nature of the law without proper legal counsel.
Things to Consider
In the state of Texas, an eminent domain must fulfill all of the following criteria:
• The area must be a private property within state lines
• The property must be used in ways that are beneficial to the public
• The property owner must be properly compensated
While the land-purchasing portion of Project SH 68 may be some time away, it’s highly important that you and every other landowner in the Donna and Hargill areas to be fully informed. If eminent domain comes into play, here is the process you could potentially be looking at:
• An agency interested in your land hires an appraiser to determine your property’s worth. Legal representation is strongly advised at this point.
• If you fail to reach an agreement, a public hearing must be scheduled where the agency will demonstrate proof of the greater good that the project will provide the community.
• The agency then files with the Superior Court. You are then entitled to challenge the complaint.
• 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
Your Satisfaction is Our Priority
If the looming Project SH 68 may affect your property, the eminent domain lawyers at Fryer and Hansen have the experience you require. We will do everything in our power to ensure that your property gets the best market value possible while keeping you from being financially hurt by the proceedings. Contact us in McAllen today for more information about our services.