We pride ourselves on individual freedoms and protections from the government here. However, even in Texas, the United State’s Constitution allows the government to take our property through eminent domain. And, we get very little notice of these actions before they begin, often just a letter before court proceedings begin.
Your first notice is usually a letter from a government agency letting you know that some government agency wants your land for some public use. The letter will ask you to contact the agency to accept their offer of some amount of money. It will usually give you some amount of time to respond and threaten legal action if you do not respond within that amount of time.
If you do not respond, your next correspondence will likely be from the court, which is why you should take this correspondence seriously and contact a Beaumont, Texas, eminent domain attorney.
What is Eminent domain?
Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, governments are authorized to take property from citizens through eminent domain as long as they give citizens just compensation for such takings. And, over the centuries since its signing, courts have allowed governments to take land for just about any reason one can imagine, which now means that eminent domain litigation now revolves around what qualifies as just compensation.
Fighting over just compensation
The fight over just compensation is usually a battle of experts on the fair market value of the property. Both the government and landowner present their own experts, and if the landowner has sold parcels of land prior, they too can offer their own testimony as well.
All aspects of the Beaumont, Texas, land valuation is determined through fair market value. First, this includes the size and accessibility. Next, the zoning, use and potential uses are included, along with any unique characteristics and resources, like minerals, waters, oil and gas, etc. Structures and development level are also factored in.
However, social and emotional factors are not included. This can be key for Beaumont, Texas, family plots where property and equipment may be decades old and have little material value. However, they may have huge emotional value. For example, while a barn may be falling down, if it was built by your grandfather, it may mean a lot to you. The court will not add value to it based on that value.