"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
Barron Adler Partner Roy Brandys Quoted in Texas Tribune Border Wall Article
December 28, 2020
The Texas Tribune published an article on December 23 about ongoing issues with the acquisition of property for the federal government’s border wall project. Barron Adler partner Roy Brandys was quoted in article discussing title problems and other similar issues that have been encountered as part of the project.
Federal Railroad Administration Releases Regulations on Texas Bullet Train
September 25, 2020
The Federal Railroad Administration has released regulations in connection with the proposed bullet train that would connect Houston and Dallas. These documents collectively outline rules for the system’s signal and trainset control, track, rolling stock, operating rules and practice, system qualifications and maintenance. The documents also set the alignment that the Texas Central Railroad will follow between Dallas and Houston.
Trump Administration Takes Keystone XL Dispute to Supreme Court
June 24, 2020
The US Solicitor General has asked the United States Supreme Court to overturn the ruling of a federal judge in Montana that invalidated a federal permit frequently issued as part of pipeline projects. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a prior request to suspend the Montana-based federal judge’s ruling. “The district court had no warrant to set aside NWP 12 with respect to Keystone XL, let alone for the construction of all new oil and gas pipelines anywhere in the country,” the US Solicitor General wrote.
Houston Appellate Court Rules Against Pipeline Company
June 24, 2020
The First District Court of Appeals out of Houston issued an opinion recently, finding that the HSC Pipeline Partnership, LLC pipeline company did not qualify as a common carrier and did not have the power to condemn a pipeline easement. The appellate court also held that the landowner should have been permitted to present evidence of what he had been paid by other pipelines that previously obtained easements on his property. It is currently unknown if the pipeline company plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of Texas.