Eminent domain: Are accountability, transparency and fairness too much to ask?

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By CATTLEMAN'S COLUMN

 

 

As private property owners, we learned some tough lessons during the last Texas legislative session when we were not able to secure desperately needed reforms to the eminent domain process. Nonetheless, we are preparing to return with even greater resolve and have distilled our reform efforts to three main requests for the 86th Texas Legislature.

Accountability, transparency and fairness.

We hear time and again from property owners that they have been offered an outrageously low price for pipeline or transmission line easements across their land.

The Constitution states that property owners must be adequately compensated when their land is taken through eminent domain. Therefore, we believe the condemning entity must be held accountable for the initial offer they make.

Under current eminent domain law, the condemning entity is not required to make an initial offer of at least fair market value. Currently, it is your burden as the property owner to negotiate up to fair market value. We believe that responsibility should be on the private corporation who is profiting from the taking. There should be consequences when a condemning entity’s initial offer is unreasonably low.

 

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