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Has Your Property Been Threatened with Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain, also called “condemnation,” is the power of the state or federal government to condemn and force the sale of private property that is necessary for a public use. As the Texas population has grown, its need for basic infrastructure-highways, roads, rail lines, electric transmission lines, gas pipelines, water pipelines, and other public projects-has led to the power of eminent domain being delegated to certain private companies. With the growth of the Texas economy and population unlikely to slow down there is an increasing chance that all or part of your property might be condemned for a pipeline, transmission line, road, or other public use.

However, a property owner, whether commercial, residential, or rural, is not left solely to the whims of the entity seeking to use its’ power of eminent domain. Specifically, the United States and Texas Constitutions require that the property being condemned must be put to a public use and that the property owner must be paid just compensation. As a result, some of the most intensely debated and litigated matters in a condemnation proceeding are whether the property will be put to a public use, whether the property owner is paid just compensation, and whether the entity even has the power of eminent domain.

Securing Just Compensation

If you cannot stop a company from taking your property, whether by challenging the company’s right of eminent domain or by challenging whether the property will be put to a public use, then the issue becomes one of just compensation to the property owner.

Under the law, just compensation is determined by the fair market value-the price a willing buyer would pay in an open market-at the property’s highest and best use. However, this value can be difficult to determine and will almost certainly be more than what the company if offering to pay.

Our attorneys will thoroughly analysis the value of the property being condemned taking into consideration the reduction in value to any remaining property and any other issues that could impact the value of the property.

Negotiating Easements

Frequently, a company or governmental entity seeking to utilize its’ power of eminent domain is looking to acquire an easement or right-of-way, across a portion of the property, to install pipelines, transmission lines, or roads. Nevertheless, the property owner is still being forced to sale property and he or she needs to take proactive steps to adequately protect current and future property and financial interests. The first step should be to contact an experienced and capable condemnation lawyer.

Our attorneys are highly skilled negotiators and have negotiated easements throughout Texas and New Mexico. They will ensure that the easement fully protects current and future property owners while at the same time restricting the rights of the company acquiring the easement.

Jake Lederle, Partner, recently wrote an article titled Negotiating & Drafting Pipeline Easements, which provides property owners practical insights when negotiating easements. To read the full article click here.

Protect Your Financial Interests. Contact Wetsel, Allen, & Lederle, LLP

If you have been approached by a company seeking an easement or your property has been threatened with eminent domain you need an experienced and capable condemnation lawyer. Our lawyers have nearly 100 years of combined experience in the complex and nuanced area of eminent domain law. Learn your rights. Call Wetsel, Allen, & Lederle, LLP, at 800-787-0784, or contact the firm online to schedule a consultation.