Challenging Eminent Domain in McKinney
The Fifth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, along with Article I, Section 17 of the Texas Constitution, allows the government to seize private property from a landowner for public use. Crucially, however, the state or federal government must offer the property owner adequate compensation for their seized property.
As a private landowner, you may be able to challenge eminent domain, including the amount of compensation offered. If you find yourself in the middle of eminent domain proceedings, an experienced condemnation lawyer could assist you with challenging eminent domain in McKinney.
Commissioner Hearing Process
In some cases, the government may not fairly or adequately compensate private landowners for their property. If the buyer and the landowner cannot reach an agreement, the buyer will file a condemnation petition, and a judge will appoint three “commissioners” to resolve the monetary dispute.
During the commissioner hearing, the landowner may be able to challenge the government’s proposed compensation in either of the following ways:
- Bringing evidence which shows that the subject property has a higher value than what the buyer is offering (such as a property appraisal)
- Introducing evidence which shows that the condemnation will cause the property owner undue financial injury or hardship
Once the commissioners hear all of the evidence, they will make a decision as to the value of adequate compensation for the property in question. Unlike courtroom judges, commissioners may not consider legal questions at this level, such as whether eminent domain is proper. Accordingly, a McKinney landowner may not legally challenge eminent domain during this step of the process.
Filing an Objection with the Court
If the landowner is dissatisfied with the commissioners’ award, they have a right to file an objection with the court. The landowner must file this objection by the first Monday after the 20th day following the date on which the commissioners file their decision.
Once the landowner files an objection, the court will set the condemnation case for trial. The trial will proceed before a jury or a judge, who will decide the case.
During a condemnation trial, a landowner has the legal right to bring evidence challenging the commissioners’ award. The landowner may also challenge the buyer’s common carrier status. To acquire property by eminent domain, the government may only acquire the land for public use. At the trial level, the landowner may introduce evidence which shows that the buyer is acquiring the land for private use, meaning that they are not a common carrier, or that the property is not necessary for the buyer’s proposed project.
Although a judge may consider these direct challenges to eminent domain at trial, the commissioners may not consider these issues at the hearing level.
Call a Lawyer for Assistance Challenging Eminent Domain in McKinney
If the government or a corporation has approached you about purchasing your property, it may be beneficial to have a lawyer by your side, representing you at every legal proceeding.
A McKinney condemnation lawyer could help you challenge the government’s compensation offer, as well as the government or corporation’s right to acquire your property. A lawyer can also address all of your legal questions about challenging eminent domain in McKinney, helping you achieve the best possible result in your case.