When the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announces plans for changes or expansions to existing highways, most people barely register that as news. They may not pay attention to the details until they begin their morning commute and realize that the on-ramp they always use to get on the interstate is currently closed.
Other people only learn about impending road projects when their homes face condemnation so that the project can move forward. Eminent domain laws can effectively force people to sell their property for development purposes when the state decides to invest in infrastructure.
It is not just new road construction that can have an impact on someone’s property ownership rights. Expansions to existing infrastructure, especially through significant highway projects, can also have a major effect on people’s properties.
An upcoming highway expansion in Denton will affect dozens
In 2019, the TxDOT announced multiple large projects to expand existing interstates throughout Texas. One of those expansions involves I-35E in the Denton area.
According to information published by The Denton Record-Chronicle, this $77 million project will require the acquisition of 42 properties, possibly under eminent domain laws if the owners don’t sell voluntarily. Attachment to the property for sentimental reasons or an inability to find a comparable property elsewhere could be reasons an owner doesn’t want to sell.
Negotiations and sales with property owners may already be underway, but not everyone responds with excitement and enthusiasm at the idea of selling their real estate for an infrastructure project when they don’t get a say in the matter. Those who refuse to sell may face condemnation proceedings in court that result in the loss of their property regardless of their opposition to its sale.
Those facing eminent domain claims still have rights
When you realize that your home or business property is suddenly vulnerable to eminent domain claims, you may feel powerless. However, you have rights under both Texas and federal law as a property owner.
Keeping an eye on infrastructure changes and learning how an attorney can advocate for you during the eminent domain process can ensure that you receive at least fair compensation in a situation where a highway expansion or construction project will impact your property.