Monday, April 30, 2007

Attorney gives primer on eminent domain in Hunt County

Property protection topic of meeting

April 29, 2007

By Janelle Stecklein
Greenville Herald-Banner
Copyright 2007

Condemnation was the topic of discussion at the Hunt County Alliance for Economic Development meeting last Wednesday.

Attorney at Law Judon Fambrough for the Texas Real Estate Center at Texas A&M-Commerce University explained to attendees how to best protect themselves from condemnation proceedings and explained step-by-step how the process works and how the law can protect the citizens.

In condemnation proceedings, Fambrough said those wanting a piece of property can't take more than they actually need. And, he said there is a difference between eminent domain and condemnation. Under eminent domain an entity is granted to power to take property and condemnation is the process of taking property.

The first step in the condemnation procedure is the person involved in the condemnation proceedings is the condemner supposed to try to purchase the property and reach a price agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, a special commissioners court is called and the court appoints three land-owners to hear the case and to come to a decision. If one of the parties does not like the decision, the it goes to step three -- litigation. For step two and three each party needs its own appraiser. And if step three is reached each party needs to hire an attorney.

A recent Texas Supreme Court decision does not require the condemner fair-market value for the property, but there are people in Austin currently working on litigation to reverse that, Fambrough said.

To help protect the value of a piece of property and to help make sure the land-owner gets the best value, Fambrough recommends, giving the condemner the bare minimum they need and be specific what they can and cannot do on the property, so that they need to come back and pay more for additional land usage and so that they can't trespass all over the property.

Fambrough also spoke briefly about the impact the Trans-Texas Corridor could potentially have on Hunt County residents and condemnation proceedings that could results from the road's development.

He said those working on the Trans-Texas Corridor cannot condemn minerals and water rights located on a property, so if a Hunt County residents faces condemnation procedures, they should make sure their rights are protected.

Posted by Janelle Stecklein

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