Do you own land or have real property in Texas that may be subject to a situation involving eminent domain? If so, it is likely that you are concerned about what will happen if the government seeks to take it away from you. In such a situation, understanding the parameters of public purpose and taking proactive steps toward defending your rights as a landowner is essential. Thankfully, this blog post provides a comprehensive guide to defining public purpose in eminent domain.
Overview of Eminent Domain and Public Purpose
Eminent domain is a power granted to the government, allowing them to take private property for public use. However, the definition of public use can sometimes be hard to determine. In the state of Texas, the government can take private property if they deem it to be necessary for public use. This includes any purpose in line with the public interest, such as constructing and maintaining roads and bridges, building schools, parks, or other public facilities.
Definition of Public Purpose in Texas
Texas property owners should be aware that when their land is subject to eminent domain, the state must prove a “public purpose” exists in order for it to take effect. The concept of public purpose is integral and works as a fundamental protection of property rights, with condemnations allowed only when used to benefit the state and its citizens directly. In order to define this public purpose, the Texas Legislature seeks to balance the needs of resource conservation, economic activity, and development against providing adequate compensation and respecting private property ownership as defined by state law. Understanding what constitutes “public purpose” is important for any landowner in Texas who may have their land subject to seizure through eminent domain.
Types of Projects that Fall Under the Definition of Public Purpose
It is important to understand the specific types of projects that can fall under the definition of public purpose. In Texas, eminent domain can be used for a variety of endeavors that benefit the public, including roads and bridges, utilities such as power plants, pipeline systems for supplying electricity or water, airports and other transportation services, hospitals and other medical facilities providing taxpayer-funded health care programs, educational institutions, and more. All these projects are considered to be in the greater public interest and often require taking private land by eminent domain. Understanding these categories is essential when assessing a situation where government entities may take private land.
What Does It Mean for Your Property to be Taken for Public Use or Purpose in Texas
Getting a notice that your home or property may be taken for public use or purpose can be an incredibly confusing and stressful process. In Texas, homeowners have the right to find out why their home could be taken from them and how the government may use it. While some projects may be true in the public interest, landowners have the right to challenge a seizure and determine if it is actually necessary for public use.
The Process of Eminent Domain in Texas
When a landowner finds out their property may be taken through eminent domain, they should become familiar with the process and all applicable steps. In Texas, this includes determining whether or not it is necessary for public use. The government must demonstrate that taking private land is for a valid public purpose and provide evidence demonstrating how it will benefit the public. They must also provide just compensation to the landowner, ensuring they receive fair market value for their property. However, it is still possible for landowners to challenge the process if they feel like their property was taken unfairly.
In Texas, the eminent domain process typically involves the following steps:
The government agency or private entity seeking to exercise eminent domain will typically attempt to negotiate with the property owner to purchase the property voluntarily. This negotiation may involve appraisals, offers, and counteroffers.
Notice of Intent:
If negotiations are unsuccessful, the entity seeking to exercise eminent domain must provide the property owner with a Notice of Intent to take the property. This notice must contain specific information about the property, the intended use of the property, and the compensation being offered.
Special Commissioners’ Hearing:
After the Notice of Intent is provided, the entity seeking to exercise eminent domain must file a petition in court to condemn the property. A hearing will then be held before a panel of special commissioners, who will determine the property’s fair market value.
If either the property owner or the entity seeking to exercise eminent domain is dissatisfied with the special commissioners’ decision, they can file an objection in court and request a trial by jury. The court will then hear evidence from both parties and determine the property’s fair market value.
Payment and Possession:
Once the fair market value has been determined, the entity seeking to exercise eminent domain must pay the property owner the amount determined by the court. After payment has been made, the entity can take possession of the property and use it for the intended public or private use.
Understanding Your Rights as a Landowner During an Eminent Domain Process in Texas
If you are a Texas landowner, understanding your rights during an eminent domain process is key to ensuring that you get the fair compensation to which you are entitled. The first step is to read over the Landowner’s Bill Of Rights. After familiarizing yourself with the eminent domain process and your rights, contact Owners Advocacy Group to discuss your options, and any questions you have and determine the best course of action. Our team of experienced eminent domain negotiators can help guide you throughout the process, ensuring you get the compensation you deserve for your property. Don’t let the government take advantage of you; contact Owners Advocacy Group today.