Texas Central still needs permits in order to proceed with a controversial project using not only Japanese technology but possibly Japanese funding as well. Although Governor Greg Abbott supports the project to build a high-speed rail line stretching from Dallas to Houston that will cost approximately $20 billion, it is only on condition that the private property rights of Texans are respected.
Abbott’s letter to the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in last Fall signaling a green light for the project has raised concerns for legislators who cite the absence of key permits and skepticism that it can even be completed without public funding.
Although the project has support from the urban areas that are most likely to benefit, landowners question the use of eminent domain to secure the land needed for the rail line along the route. As there is no state agency to handle regulatory authority for land use for high-speed rail in Texas, there are concerns that landowners will not be treated fairly. The company currently has secured 40% of the lots, but not the land, needed for the project.
Eminent domain in Texas
Eminent domain is a provision in both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions that allows the government to take private property for public use. Both Constitutions require that just or adequate compensation be made for the taking of land. When the government exercises the power of eminent domain private property, the property seized is condemned.
Under Texas law, the three elements of eminent domain are:
- The authority must be the state or private entity authorized to condemn
- The property must be taken for public use
- The landowner must be given adequate compensation
The power of eminent domain is conferred by the Texas State Legislature granted by a two-thirds vote of both houses. Examples of private entities that have been granted this authority have included gas or electric corporations, common carrier pipelines and groundwater conservation districts. Only the amount of land reasonably necessary for public use may be condemned.
If you have recently received a notice of intent or are concerned about eminent domain issues affecting your property in North Texas, it may be wise to contact highly experienced legal advocates who can help you make a dispute to halt the action or fight for and adequate settlement.