Articles Posted in Eminent Domain

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LandownersBillofRightsThe Office of the Attorney General promulgates the “Landowner’s Bill of Rights” which are required to be provided to landowners in condemnation matters. The Landowner’s Bill of Rights outlines the rights of every landowner in the State of Texas has concerning their property in any condemnation proceeding. To read the full text of the Landowner’s Bill of Rights, click Here. The basic Landowner’s Bill of Rights are as follows:

1. You are entitled to receive adequate compensation if your property is taken for a public use. This means that, in any condemnation proceedings, you are entitled to the fair market value of the property being taken, including an amount for damages to any remaining property after the taking occurs. For instance, if your property is burdened by a transmission line easement, which will affect the remaining property’s fair market value, you are entitled to damages in the amount of the reduced value of the property as determined immediately after the taking occurs.

2. Your property can only be taken for a public use. This means that the government cannot take your property for a private use, i.e. for the benefit of only private individuals or companies. It must be a public use, such as a highway, gas lines, water line, etc..

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GuestandGrayLogoGuest and Gray, P.C. is the advocate of choice for landowners from Kaufman county, Rockwall county and Hunt county. We service all areas of Northeast Texas, from Forney to Farmersville, Greenville to Terrell, and all outlying areas of East and Northeast Texas.  We have a 100% success rate in obtaining additional compensation for our clients who face condemnation by a condemning authority. Our goal is to fight for the rights of landowners against the unfair process of eminent domain.

In all condemnation proceedings, there are two things that the government, or their authorized entity, such as a water district or electricity provider, must demonstrate: that the taking is for a “public use”, and they must pay the landowner “just compensation”.

These are hard and fast rules, but what exactly constitutes a “public use” and “just compensation” can be a bit of a mystery.

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EastTexasOilFieldOver the last several years, residents of more rural parts of northeast Texas have been victimized by TxDot, water districts, electric companies and co-ops, and the very cities and counties in which they live, all in the name of progress and purported “necessity”.

Eminent Domain is a real threat to landowners in Texas. Every single day, somewhere in this great state, someone is receiving a letter for the first time letting them know that their property is located within a region being taken for a public use and that they should “contact ____” for more information.

For the landowner, it can be heartbreaking. For someone who has built their dream home, having to give up part or all of that property for a new highway, or transmission towers, or a pipeline, is devastating. In most cases, we have rural landowners, ranchers and farmers, who are being burdened by the advancement of the population. We need pipelines, transmission towers and roadways, but that does not make it any easier for the landowner who’s property is being taken for the “greater good”.

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Most people that I have talked to about the proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico Border have been surprised to hear that the federal government does not already own the land necessary to build the wall. The next question that I receive is: well, does that mean that they have to take private landowners’ property away from them?

Well, yes, under the guise of eminent domain.

Eminent domain is the method by which the federal government will be required to pay the local borderlands property owners “just compensation” for the land they plan to use for the proposed border wall. “Just compensation” is measured by the fair market value of the land at the time of the taking. Exxon Pipeline Co. v. Zwahr, 88 S.W.3d 623, 627 (Tex. 2002).  Market value is the price the property will bring when offered for sale by one who desires to sell, but is not obliged to sell, and is bought by one who desires to buy, but is under no necessity of buying. City of Harlingen v. Estate of Sharboneau, 48 S.W.3d 177, 182 (Tex. 2001). The owner of the property can testify to its market value, even if he could not qualify to testify about the value of the property belonging to someone else. Porras v. Craig, 675 S.W.2d 503, 504 (Tex. 1984); see also Redman Homes, Inc. v. Ivy, 920 S.W.2d 664, 669 (Tex. 1996).

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EasttexasEminent Domain and Condemnation is the process by which the city, county, state, or private utility or other statutorily granted entity, may come in and force you to sell all or part of your property to them under the guise of a public need. For the purposes of this article, the party claiming a public need will be called a “state actor”.

Although it is a fairly complicated process, the state actor will institute negotiations with the property owner in an attempt to purchase the property outright without actually entering into the “eminent domain” process.

Under Texas law, there are three elements required to show for eminent domain:  (1) The actor must be the state or a private entity authorized to condemn; (2) the property must be taken for public use; and (3) the landowner must receive adequate compensation for the condemned property.