Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Jan 28, 2015 in Personal Injury
The Texas Central Railway (TCR) is moving ahead with plans to build a high speed railway which will travel between Dallas and Houston in less than 90 minutes.
The plan will link the 4th and 5th largest metropolitan areas in the country, and will surely benefit Texans who to need to travel to or commute between the cities. TCR estimates that nearly 50,000 Texans travel for business between Dallas and Houston at least once per week, and the company plans to offer 68 trips between the two cities each day.
Not everyone is thrilled with the proposal, however. Landowners whose property lies in the proposed train route will likely have to give up their land for the project.
While most of the trains route follows previously-established train tracks and utility lines, the routes will travel over some privately-owned land. For those landowners in the way, TCR has been given eminent domain powers by the state of Texas to purchase the property they need, regardless of whether the landowners actually want to sell.
What Happens to Private Land?
TCR posted on its website that the company was committed to respecting and honoring the private land, and that it would seek to negotiate sales with private landowners as needed.
However, TCR is a railroad company, which gives it certain rights and powers-like the ability to take private property under the doctrine of eminent domain.
Eminent domain means that the state or federal government has the authority to take private land for public use, even if the private landowner does not want to sell. The state of Texas has given TCR, a private company, the ability to use eminent domain to finish the project.
Using eminent domain to take private land will ensure that a private landowner cannot refuse to sell (and hold up the project), while also making sure that landowners are compensated for the loss of their property.
What Rights Will Landowners Have?
The Texas Landowners Bill of Rights (as well as the federal constitution) guarantees that private landowners will be adequately compensated for their land, that their land can only be taken for approved public uses, and that private landowners are notified of the taking and have the opportunity to have their opinions heard at a hearing or in a court of law.
Landowners whose property is in the way of the rail project will be notified of the proposed plan and given a copy of the Landowner's Bill of Rights. The purchaser, TCR, will have to make a bona fide offer to purchase the property. This offer must be reasonable, and follow the requirements of Texas law.
If you and the purchaser cannot agree on the price of the property, your property will be condemned. If your property is condemned, you will have a special hearing where three local landowners will serve as commissioners. These landowners will consider the value of your property, and can order the purchaser to pay you additional money if your property warrants it.
If you do not agree with the commissioners valuation of your property, you have a right to appeal your award to a trial court.
Make Sure Your Property Is Properly Valued
If your property is in danger of being taken using eminent domain, make sure that you get the money you deserve for your land.
Eminent domain is a complicated area of the law, and you need experienced Texas lawyers on your side to represent your interests. Losing your property may be inevitable, but you still have valuable rights.
Did you receive an eminent domain notice? Don't wait Call Stephens, Anderson & Cummings today.
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