What does “public use” mean, in Texas?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2020 | Eminent Domain

The use of Texas eminent domain authority is limited to projects dedicated to “public use.”  Although easily articulated, the public use determination can be an element contributing to the confusing eminent domain process.

In Texas, establishing public use is an integral part of meeting eminent domain requirements. While other states may be able to justify a taking with purposes that would bolster tax revenues or encourage the state’s economy, that is not the case in Texas.

What are typical public uses?

There are many entities who have the power of eminent domain for a wide variety of uses including, but not limited to:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Airports
  • Post offices
  • City, state or federal buildings
  • Bridges
  • Roads
  • Railroads
  • Pipelines

It is essential to stay attentive during the condemnation process. You have specific rights when it comes to a taking through eminent domain, as outlined in the state’s Landowner’s Bill of Rights.

You do not have to accept the first offer you receive for your property. You have the option to reject the offer and to appear at the special commissioner’s hearing. Further, you have the right to appeal the decision of the special commissioners.

What happens if the taking is not a public use?

There are remedies when eminent domain authority is used for something other than a public use.

When land is taken for non-public use, or when the condemning entity fails to use the condemned area for 10 years, a property owner has the right to challenge the condemnor’s right to take, or seek to recover the land that was not used for the identified purpose.