"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
President Trump Announces New Executive Orders to Speed Up Pipeline Construction
April 10, 2019
The White House has announced the President intends to execute two new executive orders that will make it easier for the oil and gas industry to obtain permits for pipeline construction. The executive orders, which will be announced at the International Union of Operating Engineers' International Training and Education Center outside Houston, will each focus on incentivizing private investment in energy infrastructure and streamlining permitting of projects, according to a White House official.
Texas Senate Passes Eminent Domain Reform Bill
April 10, 2019
Senate Bill 421, the omnibus eminent domain reform bill filed by Senator Lois Kolkhorst, has passed the Texas Senate by a vote of 28-3. The bill was opposed by oil and gas interests in the Senate and opposition is expected in the Texas House.
Barron Adler Partners Roy Brandys and Nick Laurent Quoted in Article on Border Wall
March 12, 2019
As part of the Texas Tribune’s ongoing reporting on the border wall project called The Taking, Barron Adler partners Roy Brandys and Nick Laurent were quoted regarding President Trump’s emergency declaration. The article addresses the legal challenges that are expected if the President moves forward with the border wall project using funds from his emergency declaration.
Barron Alder Client Featured in Texas Observer Article
March 11, 2019
The Texas Observer featured an legal battle over claims of contamination on a south Texas ranch. The Texas Observer reports that “massive levels of beryllium and cadmium, both known human carcinogens, have been detected in the water; beryllium at 190 times the safe level and cadmium at 130 times.” The adjacent power plant operator, San Miguel Electric Co-op, who is accused of contaminating the ranch is now seeking to acquire ranch property through the use of eminent domain. Barron Adler lawyers are representing the landowner in connection with the eminent domain matter.