"Eminent Domain" refers to the inherent right of the government to take private property for a public use. "Condemnation" is the legal process used for such a taking. While the government has this vast power, the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 17, of the Texas Constitution guarantee that a property owner will receive just compensation for the taking. If the government and property owner cannot agree on that compensation then, ultimately, they are entitled to have the judicial system determine it based on the law.
Under eminent domain law, the government only has the right to take the property for a legitimate public use. This means property can be taken to build a public road, to create a municipal park, to construct a school or public library, or to provide utilities. However, the power of condemnation is not limited to the government. Private entities also sometimes have the power of eminent domain if allowed by the law and if used for a project that has been deemed to be effectively a public use. For instance, private companies can force the sale of private property for oil and gas pipelines in some situations if used to further a common carrier function.
In blighted or deteriorated areas that present a threat to public safety, the government also has the right to take some property through eminent domain. But this right is limited.
How Does Eminent Domain Work?
The government’s taking of private property is referred to as condemnation. Condemnation does not mean that there is anything wrong with your property or that is being condemned as unsafe or labeled as a tear-down. Condemnation simply means that the government is exercising its right of eminent domain.
When the government determines that it will use eminent domain to take your property, it must appraise the property to determine fair compensation.
When the government makes an offer, you have the choice to accept or decline the offer. Declining the offer does not mean that you are entitled to keep your property; the government can still force the taking. However, our Texas eminent domain lawyers can help you present your opinions of what constitutes just and adequate compensation and that the government’s offer is below fair market value.
When Can You Fight Eminent Domain?
Stopping the condemnation altogether can be a challenge and is not always possible. In some instances, however, you can prevent the government from taking your property by proving that the government is not taking it for a legitimate public use. A Texas eminent domain attorney is essential to successfully stopping the condemnation since it can be difficult to prove that the government is acting improperly. Sometimes condemnations are stopped when the taking authority realizes the actual cost to acquire that will be involved.
Contact the Eminent Domain Attorneys at Barron, Adler, Clough & Oddo, LLP
If you are facing a regulatory taking, condemnation or other eminent domain action in Texas, contact the Texas eminent domain lawyers at Barron, Adler, Clough & Oddo, LLP, to learn how we can help. Our condemnation attorneys have represented more clients throughout Texas on more projects than any other firm and our attorneys are experts in the field of eminent domain.
News & Resources
Eminent Domain Reform Bill Filed at Legislature
January 25, 2019
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. DeWayne Burns have filed companion bills in the Legislature that would reform the eminent domain system in Texas (Senate Bill 421 and House Bill 991). Similar bills have been filed in prior Legislative sessions, but have failed.
Article on Border Wall by Barron Adler Lawyers Published in ABA Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Magazine
January 22, 2019
An article about the border wall and unique legal issues associated with it, written by Barron Adler lawyers Roy Brandys, Nick Laurent, and Blaire Knox, has been published in the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Section Magazine. The article is a re-print of the same article that was previously published in the ABA Real Property, Trusts & Estate Law Section Magazine. A lengthier version of the article has also been published in the ABA Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Journal, Vol 53, No. 1 (Spring 2018).
Plains All American Pipeline Makes $1 Million Grant Available to Brown County
January 14, 2019
The Brownwood Bulletin reports that Plains All American Pipeline has offered to make $1 million available for grants to public safety agencies that are within 30 miles of the company’s Permian Basin to Houston pipeline. The pipeline will cross through the norther portion of Brown County, and the company also plans to build a second pipeline through the norther part of the County.