As Texas communities grow, the boundaries of towns and cities become less pronounced and the need for improved services increases. The State may invoke the power of eminent domain and condemnation to secure the use of your land for public improvement projects.
According to the Texas Farm Bureau, eminent domain gives the government or private entities acting upon power granted by the government to take private property for public use.
Elements of eminent domain
Legislation prohibits property damage, destruction, or taking land for public use without adequate compensation. These provisions impose requirements that limit the power of the State. Eminent domain contains the following three elements:
- Authorization to exercise eminent domain
- Property taken must be for public use
- Property owners must receive adequate compensation
As the landowner, the law entitles you to receive the fair market value of the highest and best use appropriate for the property. This may be above the property value that the land may have based on your land’s current usage.
Condemnation proceedings are often complex. However, whether the State needs the land for new power and sewer lines or roadways and other public facilities, the provisions are the same.
Phase one includes the offer to purchase the property and the negotiations with you. Each side has a certain amount of time to respond with the required information to reach an agreement. If you cannot reach an agreement, the State or authorized representative may file a lawsuit in the district or county court. During phase three, a judge appoints special commissioners to determine adequate compensation.
If you still object to the compensation offer, you may go to phase five, which might be a jury trial. Understanding your rights is essential for presenting the best arguments possible. It may help ensure you receive just compensation for your land.