Highway construction and public buildings popping up across town are nothing new. As most people who live in urban areas will tell you, the sight of construction workers building or laying the groundwork for highways is something everyone becomes accustomed to. What many find to be difficult, however, is becoming accustomed to seeing homes or neighborhoods demolished for government use through eminent domain.
Although you may have never dealt with an eminent domain situation, there may possibly come a time in the future where you will. In this piece, we’ll discuss five important topics you should keep in mind regarding this mostly unknown legal clause.
The Landowner Bill of Rights
As a homeowner, when the government approaches your property with the intention of purchasing it through eminent domain, they must provide a copy of the Landowners Bill of Rights published by the State of Texas. If you aren’t provided with this document or are having trouble interpreting it, we encourage you to contact us immediately.
A Non-Biased Appraiser
In the world of eminent domain, your property is subject to appraisal for determining a fair market value. Many times, the entity enforcing the eminent domain clause will have an appraiser make this judgment. As you can imagine, this might raise a few eyebrows as bias or having this person work in the interest of their employer may hamper determining what your property is truly worth. We recommend getting a second opinion.
The Benefit of the Public
The government can only take property through eminent domain after just compensation is awarded to the property owner and by proving that the project that resulted in the clause being used will benefit the public. This means private companies looking to build stores that will create jobs and benefit the community. Never forget that Texas law stops condemnation authorities from taking homeowners properties just to increase their tax revenues.
The Government’s Evaluation
If the government approaches you with a valuation for your property, always take the information with an objective point of view. This is the amount the government believes your property is worth through its own appraisal methods. While the government is required to engage with homeowners in good faith, the valuation provided may not always be accurate. Also, the government cannot use or exercise legal action against homeowners refusing to agree to the compensation being offered.
The Value of Your Land
Always keep in mind that the value of your land is determined by an appraiser who may not be accurate with his/her evaluation. There are many ways a piece of land can be valued, and many variables that affect those methods sometimes aren’t taken into account. Things such as the possible existence of gas or oil, groundwater rights and other income streams are many times overlooked by an appraiser.
Project SH 68
A project is currently under way in parts of Donna and Edinburg called Project SH 68. The purpose is to help alleviate increasing levels of traffic and lighten the load on southern and northern mobility routes. The project will stretch from Donna to the northern part of Edinburg, encompassing future mainlines and an overpass in Hidalgo County. It’s a very real possibility that many citizens of Donna and Edinburg will be faced with eminent domain clauses.
Fryer & Hansen, PLLC Can Help
The thought of selling a home or piece of land that’s been in your family for years can be heartbreaking. If you’re ready for a second opinion or have reason to believe that your land is worth more than what you’re being told, then give us a call. Our eminent domain lawyers in McAllen can help you with your situation.