Charles McFarland joined a nationally-recognized faculty at the annual American Law Institute’s Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Conference January 24-26, 2019 in Palm Springs, California. In a discussion titled “Run for the Border: Fence and Wall Condemnations,” McFarland and James Roth of Maryland addressed the unique condemnation and valuation issues that may arise out of the federal government’s proposed border wall project.
McFarland represents Texas landowners when the government and other public-use entities attempt to take private property for a public project. In his state-wide practice, he routinely addresses issues of right to take, public use, and just compensation owed for the taking of private property. His clients include retail, commercial, industrial, ranch, and special-purpose properties that are impacted by road and highway improvements, pipelines, transmission lines, utility infrastructure and other public purpose projects.
Before joining his current law firm of Miller, Miller & Canby, Roth spent 10 years in the public sector as a consultant supporting tactical infrastructure and facilities projects, including the border fence construction along the border of Texas and Mexico that followed the Secure Fence Act of 2006. The combination of these differing perspectives resulted in an in-depth and fascinating examination of the legal and logistical challenges that may be presented in the more-comprehensive border wall project proposed to secure the southern border.
McFarland and Roth discussed some of the substantial challenges to erecting a wall along the Texas-Mexico border. The terrain presents significant complications. In addition, the majority of the land along the Texas border is privately-owned. To construct a wall on private land, the federal government would be required to negotiate easements or acquire the necessary property by eminent domain. According to polls conducted by Quinnipiac University and Texas Lyceum, the majority of Texans oppose the border wall project. Texans opposed to the border wall cite concern for the taking of private property, the potential negative impact upon the natural landscape and wildlife, and potential damage due to flooding.
For Texans the border wall is more than a trending news topic. It is a uniquely complex issue involving property rights, immigration, commerce, the environment, and many Texas communities.