What is Eminent Domain vs. Condemnation in Texas
“Eminent Domain” refers to the inherent right of the government to take private property for a public use. Private entities also may have the power of eminent domain if allowed by the law and if their project is considered a public use.
“Condemnation” is the legal process and procedure used by public or private entities with the power of eminent domain for the taking of a landowner’s land.
Compensation to the Landowner – The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 17, of the Texas Constitution provide for and guarantee that a property owner will receive just compensation for the taking. If the government/private company (Condemnor) and Landowner cannot reach an agreement on compensation, then, “just compensation” is determined judicially through the condemnation process established by law.
Limitations on Eminent Domain – the government/private entity (Condemnor) only has the right to take the property for a public use and only the amount needed for that public use. Legitimate public uses include public roads, parks, libraries and utility projects. Many other private projects have also been deemed “for the public use” often include -oil and gas pipelines, high voltage power lines, meter stations and water lines.
Right to Proper Notice and Property Information – if your land is going to be taken by the government or private company in condemnation. You are entitled to certain timely notices and information throughout the condemnation process. The Condemnor must appraise the property it plans to take to determine fair compensation. Further, the Condemnor must provide you with the appraisal and make you an offer. You don’t have to accept the initial offer. If you choose to decline the offer, the Condemnor must continue the process of condemnation which includes the appointment of special commissioners, a commissioners’ hearing and award of compensation and possible trial proceeding, if the commissioners’ award is rejected by either party. However, once an award of compensation is deposited by the Condemnor, typically the Condemnor may access your property and begin the project, even before just and adequate compensation has been determined by the Court.
Stopping the Condemnation – Although most Landowners would like to stop or avoid an eminent domain project altogether, in most cases that option is not available. However, if a condemnation project is not for a “legitimate public use” then that project could be stopped or prevented.
Legal Guidance – If you are facing a condemnation proceeding, it is critical to consult with a Texas eminent domain attorney to successfully assist you through the process and properly valuing your land and the effect of the condemnation of the rest of your land.
Contact Landowner Condemnation Attorney, Philip J. Hundl.
If you are involved in a condemnation/ eminent domain project in Texas, contact Landowner condemnation attorney, Philip J. Hundl at Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick, to learn more and protect your rights.