“We need to shut down this loophole because it gives the government a way to avoid eminent domain proceedings.”
The Sealy News
Texas representatives have added additional protection to landowners against eminent domain abuse by repealing the “jury of view” process from the transportation code.
The legislation, authored by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, repeals the powerful, but rarely used process known as “jury of view”, which local governments can invoke to remove important constitutional protections usually afforded to landowners. The process gives county commissioners the opportunity to appoint five individuals to determine the path of a road and assess any damages incurred by property owners with no appeals process.
“This is a great example of how getting rid of a law will protect our rights and give more power to the property owners,” Kolkhorst said. “We need to shut down this loophole because it gives the government a way to avoid eminent domain proceedings.”
Landowners who oppose the process say that jury of view allows local governments to be the final arbiters of a land condemnation proceeding and denies affected parties a new trial to review or challenge a condemnation decision.
Critics say the process has sometimes been abused, and has been selectively used by local governments hoping to avoid the scrutiny that traditional eminent domain hearings may bring to controversial projects.
“This law denies the public their constitutional due process to landowner protections. It’s time to get rid of it, and I’m glad my fellow lawmakers agreed,” Kolkhorst said.
The bill passed unanimously and had the support of the Texas Farm Bureau.
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