Can the City of Arlington, TX Use Eminent Domain?
Governments at the state and local level in Texas have the authority to force the sale of private land for the benefit of the general public. If the City of Arlington complies with statutory requirements, it might be able to exercise eminent domain authority to take your land. The Queenan Law Firm’s Arlington, TX eminent domain lawyers explain how this can happen and what you can do to fight condemnation and eminent domain cases.
Eminent Domain Cases in Arlington, TX
When Arlington or an authorized private entity exercises the power of eminent domain, it is called condemnation. To properly condemn private property, the government must meet several requirements, including the following:
- Only the government or a private entity action with government authorization can seize private land.
- The seized land must be used for the benefit of the public.
- The condemning entity must adequately compensate the landowner for the seized property.
Arlington Landowner’s Rights and the Condemnation Process
The City of Arlington has to follow a specific process to take your land. This condemnation process is outlined in Chapter 21 of the Texas Property Code.
Additionally, Texas also has the Landowner’s Bill of Rights, containing ten provisions to protect landowners:
- The condemning entity must pay you adequately for your land.
- Your land can only be taken for the public benefit.
- Only the government or an authorized entity can seize your land.
- You must get notice of the intent to seize your property.
- You must get a written appraisal of your property’s value from a certified appraiser.
- The condemning entity must make a good faith offer to purchase your property before turning to formal legal proceedings.
- You are entitled to hire an appraiser to obtain an independent valuation of your land.
- You have the right to have a lawyer represent you throughout the process, including at the initial negotiations.
- You are entitled to a hearing in front of three court-appointed commissioners if you disagree with the offer price.
- If you are unsatisfied with the commissioners’ determination or if you believe the condemnation is improper, you have the right to a trial by judge or jury. Furthermore, if you are unsatisfied with the trial court’s decision, you have the right to file an appeal.
The Bona Fide Offer and Negotiations
The City of Arlington is required to make a good faith offer to purchase your land before initiating formal condemnation proceedings. For Arlington to comply with the statutory requirements, there must be a written offer, an appraisal of the property’s value from a certified appraiser, and a final offer that is greater than the appraised value. Additionally, there must be at least 30 days between the first and final offers, along with two weeks from the date of the final proposal for you to make a decision.
We highly recommend retaining our experienced Arlington eminent domain attorney during this process. Often, the government will undervalue the property and hire agents to convince you to take their offer. Your property might be worth more than the appraisal value. Moreover, condemnation of only part of your land might entitle you to monetary compensation for any devaluation of your remaining property. We will work to get you the proper compensation for your land. If negotiations fail, we will prepare to represent you at any subsequent hearings or appeals.
If the negotiation process fails to set an agreeable sale price, the City of Arlington will file a petition in either the district court or county court to begin the condemnation process. The documents must include a description of your property, the proposed public use purpose, your name, and certification that you received a good faith purchase offer.
Special Commissioner’s Hearings and Awards
Once Arlington initiates the condemnation proceedings, the court will appoint three local landowners as special commissioners to review your case. During the hearing, the commissioners will hear evidence of the property’s value, the public benefit, and the purpose of the condemnation to establish an adequate compensation amount. Our eminent domain attorney can represent you and present evidence that might convince the commission to set a high compensation award.
It is important to note that the commissioners do not have the authority to determine whether the condemnation was proper or improper. Moreover, both you and the City of Arlington have the right to file an objection to the award if dissatisfied with the commission’s decision.
In addition to challenging the commissioners’ determination, you can challenge the taking of your property by filing a motion to dismiss the condemnation proceedings. There are four common challenges used to fight eminent domain in these kinds of trials:
- Challenging whether the entity has the legal standing to condemn your property as a government entity
- Challenging whether the proposed purpose qualifies as “public use”
- Challenging whether the taking is necessary to accomplish the stated goal
- Challenging whether the taking is excessive
Call Our Eminent Domain Attorney in Arlington, TX to Set Up a Free Case Consultation
The City of Arlington might try to condemn your property by exercising its eminent domain powers. If the government has threatened to take your private property, our Arlington TX business litigation attorneys can fight to get you fair compensation or challenge the basis for a condemnation case. Contact The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. to learn more about our services and how we can help you. Call (817) 476-1797 to schedule a free consultation.