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Many property owners in southern Texas are talking about eminent domain powers since President Donald J. Trump declared a national state of emergency so he can build a border wall. Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, expressed concern about the new developments. His district covers 820 miles along the Texas border with Mexico. Not only did Hurd state there is no need for an emergency declaration, but also that he has concerns for the well-being of his constituents.
Hurd noted that many people who own property along the border run farms or ranches. The government will affect property ownership rights but also potentially livelihoods if it takes all or part of citizen properties to build the wall. Hurd believes that as many as 1,000 landowners could lose property if the wall plans continue.
There is already a substantial stretch of large steel and concrete-post fencing along part of the border heading into the Rio Grande Valley. Landowners noticed construction crews bringing in equipment and clearing brush, which is allegedly part of a plan to construct another 33 miles of new fencing, according to reports.
Property owners also reported that some of them received letters with requests to allow the government to survey their land. Others received letters that mentioned possible eminent domain actions. All of this gave landowners flashbacks to 10 years ago.
In 2009, in preparation to build the current stretch of fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) filed more than 360 condemnation actions to take thousands of acres of land along the border. The government used flawed appraisals to offer landowners embarrassingly low amounts, which led many of these cases to court. Numerous cases never got resolved and property owners are still dealing with court cases to this day.
It is only natural for property owners to fear a repeat of what happened in 2009. If any wall construction is to start anytime soon, it would require obtaining areas of private land from thousands of landowners. If the government tries to take this land and does not make fair offers, it could turn into another legal nightmare for many homeowners, business owners, ranchers, and farmers in Texas and other border states.
You do not have to live near the border to worry about eminent domain. Local, state, and federal government agencies can use their eminent domain powers to take private property, both residential and commercial, under certain circumstances. You have important rights in this situation, however, and you should seek legal help as soon as possible.
The condemnation lawyers at Sever Storey represent landowners facing off with the government over their futures. We fight for the compensation you deserve for your land, so please call (888) 318-3761 or contact us online to discuss your case. We serve clients on a national basis and have offices in Springfield, Illinois; Carmel, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Dublin, Ohio; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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