Private Property Rights

By: Joe Brown Email
By: Joe Brown Email

“If a road went through literally right where we’re talking about from an east west standpoint, all of our water wells are back over my right shoulder. All my fields are back to the south. Well, I can’t water my rice any more can I? So therefore even though maybe it took a portion of the farm, the rest of my farm is useless.”

That prompted senator Glenn Hegar, as well as others in the state legislature to look at the condemnation process.

“A lot of the times, at least in my own personal experience with my family, myself, and my wife’s family, when a government entity is trying to condemn a piece of property, for whatever purpose, you just feel like you’re completely helpless; that you don’t understand the process, there’s lawyers that work for the government, but you gotta go hire and have all this expense, and all you want is just to be treated fairly.”

In 1995 the Texas Supreme Court handed down a decision that limited compensation for diminished access.

“Let’s say the state tomorrow, or a government entity tomorrow says you know what, you can’t use the door of your house any more, and you go, well my house is worthless, I can’t get in my house, and they say, no, you can use your windows. You can crawl through the window every time you want to get in and you want to get out.”

Hegar’s legislation would have given landowners the protection they had before the ’95 court decision.

“The rest of your value has been devalued. Simple. You should be compensated that, or the simplest thing, give you access. If you have access we have no problems now do we?”

Hegar maintains that a road being more expensive to build doesn’t outweigh private property rights

“Yeah, government’s going to have to pay more for condemning property to build access, but at the end of the day, it’s your private property, I mean why should the person who owns land get cheated in the process in building the road?”

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