The bill to provide a more property owner friendly eminent domain process was unanimously approved by the Texas State Senate. Senate Bill 18, introduced by Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), reforms the process of eminent domain and condemnation for property owners in the state of Texas. SB 18 now moves to the House for consideration.
"Property owners know that Texas is growing and that our land and water will be needed to accommodate future growth, but that accommodation shouldn't be at the expense of property owners," Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) President Dave Scott said.
"Members of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers strongly believe that Texas property owners do not have enough protections under the current eminent domain law. Senate Bill 18 levels the playing field for property owners," he continued.
SB 18 prohibits condemnation of land for private use. It improves procedures to initiate eminent domain proceedings by requiring any actions by governmental entities to be done in public and by a record vote.
Additionally, the bill requires a bona fide offer by the condemning entity. If no bona fide offer is made, SB 18 requires the condemnor to pay all fees incurred by the property owner.
The bill also allows for a property owner to be compensated for a material impairment of direct access on or off the remaining property if it affects the market value of the remaining property. It goes further to define "direct access" as ingress or egress on or off a public road, street or highway at a location or locations where the remaining property adjoins that road, street or highway.
The bill allows for a property owner or their heirs to repurchase the property at the price paid to the owner when the property was acquired if the land is not used for public use in a timely manner.