Recent Eminent Domain News – March 18 Update

Here’s a quick roundup of eminent domain related stories news around Texas.

Bills filed to protect homeowners near transmission projects

Source: Houston Chronicle

A bill introduced in the Texas Legislature could make it easier for homeowners near utility easements to recover damages if projects, such as transmission towers, depress property values.

The bill, filed by state Rep. Ed Thompson, a Republican who represents the Pearland area, after the Houston utility CenterPoint Energy, without notice, erected transmission towers and high-voltage lines along an easement cutting through Silverlake, an unincorporated community near Pearland. A second bill introduced by state Sen. Larry Taylor, a Republican who also represents Pearland, would require utilities to notify nearby homeowners and hold public hearings before undertaking transmission upgrades.


Recent Eminent Domain News – March 18 Update

Legal issues could derail high-speed rail in Texas

Source: Palestine Herald-Press

Texas Central Railroad has pushed a high-speed (124-210 mph) rail in Texas for years. Recent recent legal developments, however, may derail the project.

A failed high-speed railway in California, an update of federal railroad regulations, and a February ruling in the 87th District Court against TCR’s right to eminent domain have struck potentially lethal blows to TCR’s proposed privately funded bullet train.

Moreover, officials for SNCF America, Inc., a world leader in high-speed rail travel, whose parent company operates the French National Railway, said Texas doesn’t need a bullet train.

“High speed rail is not the way to go in Texas,” President and CEO Alain Leray, told the Herald-Press Thursday. “Look at the Concorde aircraft. It was faster than a 747, but the market wouldn’t bear it. Ultimately, we still fly in 747’s.”

TCR officials, however, said plans to connect Dallas and Houston with a state-of-the-art railway remain on track.

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Texas Central presses forward despite opposition to high-speed train

Source: Longview News-Journal

Construction on a high-speed commuter train between North Texas and Houston likely won’t begin until 2020, but the private company pushing for the 240-mile rail line hasn’t ruled out 2019, a spokesman said.

The project is among the top 50 infrastructure projects in the world and ranked as one of the most important projects in the United States, according to infrastructure advocacy group CG/LA‘s 2019 Strategic 100 Global Infrastructure Report.

Even with growing demand — traffic between Dallas and Houston is expected to double by 2035 — construction won’t begin until Texas Central Partners LP has its federal permits and international funding completely set, David Arbuckle, vice president of external affairs for the Dallas-based company, said Tuesday.

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San Marcos City Council opposes Permian Highway Pipeline

Source: The University Star

City council passed a resolution March 5 to oppose the development of the Permian Highway Pipeline, which would extend from West Texas to the Gulf Coast.

According to the resolution, the city of San Marcos requests immediate action by all members of both houses of the Texas Legislature to protect landowners, landowners’ property rights and communities from the negative impacts the Permian Highway Pipeline and other potential oil and gas pipelines could bring.

During the crowded regular City Council session, residents packed the chamber to voice opposition. In attendance were representatives from the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and a consultant for Kinder Morgan, the company developing the pipeline.

Ashley Waymyth, managing director for the Wimberley Watershed Association, said she went to represent the Hill Country and the watershed association. According to Waymyth, the association opposes the pipeline because of its negative environmental impacts.

“We’re opposed to the pipeline because of the effects to the groundwater and the spring systems of this region,” Waymyth said. “We’ve been working for the past 23 years to protect the water and the land of the Hill Country, so this pipeline directly conflicts our interests.”

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Eminent domain works in Texas — for the takers [Opinion]

Source: Houston Chronicle

Corporate entities that use eminent domain authority to take property often claim the system is working. It does — but only for them.

Corporations with this powerful, often abused tool do not have to respect the same rules of transparency that government agencies must observe. They are not required to have public meetings, and eminent domain actions in general do not mandate a good faith offer.

At least 1,271 non-governmental entities have a power of eminent domain, but nobody tracks exactly how many takings happen across our state each year or what they’re for. However, Texas Farm Bureau has documented many cases where property owners believe they’ve been slighted in the process.

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