Eminent domain is the legal authority granted to various entities to take the private land for public use. Only a government or private body with the right to do so can take the private property.
Texas eminent domain laws
The U.S. and Texas constitutions recognize the power of eminent domain. According to the federal law, private property will not be taken for public use without just compensation. Also, article 1 of the Texas Constitution, outlaws the taking, damage or destruction to private property for public use without offering the owner adequate compensation.
Eminent domain case
An eminent domain case against a farmer for his 37-acre tract of land by the Indiana County raises the questions of just compensation and the abuse of power when taking private land for public use even in Texas. Examples of public use include construction of infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges, utility projects such as pipelines, and water and sewer lines, and large commercial projects such arenas and shopping centers.
The court-appointed appraisers valued the track at $1.4 million, which is four times the $344,000 value St. Joseph County officials had offered the farmer. The land is to be used for the construction of a rail spur for the area planned industrial park. The county economic director Bill Schalliol termed the valuation of the property as “wildly different.”
Computing adequate compensation in an eminent domain case
In Texas, the calculation of compensation is based on the property market value usually at the time of taking the property because the property value fluctuates.
Additionally, the property owner is entitled to receive the value of the “highest and best use” of the property and not necessarily the value of the property for which the owner used the land.
Whenever a portion of land is taken for public use, the damage includes the market value of the property at the time of condemnation or taking. It also includes its effect on the remaining property including the resulting injuries due to the taking such as the denial of enjoyment of the property.