The first time I got pulled over was on the Grand Parkway in Katy. My crime? Running a stop sign. Yes, there used to be stop signs on the Grand Parkway. Much has changed on the Katy prairie in the 25 years since my first traffic stop. Acres and acres of rural farmland have been converted into giant master-planned communities. Katy ISD, which was home to only three high schools in 1997, is now the fifth largest school district in the state and is home to nine 6A high schools (with more on the way).
Areas of exponential growth (like Katy) require infrastructure to serve that growth. They need, among other things, larger and more efficient roadways to handle increased traffic, water and sewer lines to service the relentless onslaught of new homes and businesses, and detention facilities to prevent properties from flooding each other. The construction of this infrastructure doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Governmental entities must acquire the properties necessary for that infrastructure – something they often do through the use of eminent domain. Eminent domain is the power of governmental and public-use entities to acquire property for public purposes with the payment of just compensation.
This pattern – exponential growth creating the need for infrastructure, which requires the use of eminent domain – has played out in west Houston for the past two decades. The expansion of I-10 West (the Katy Freeway) in the mid 2000s was rocket fuel for the westward expansion. Countless other condemnation projects, both large and small, have impacted the Katy community – from high-profile expansions such as Grand Parkway to lesser-known projects that have brought water, sewer, and other facilities to the area.
Those projects continue today. At the time of this post, construction crews are clearing the right-of-way for the widening of FM 1463 – a project that will greatly enhance the traveling experience from I-10 to FM 1093. Our team at McFarland assisted numerous property owners impacted by the FM 1463 project. Their properties included shopping centers, local businesses, and churches. In total, our team has secured millions of dollars in additional compensation for landowners on the FM 1463 project over and above the initial offers by TXDOT.
Another high-profile condemnation project in Katy is on the cusp of beginning – TXDOT’s widening of Highway 90 from its intersection at I-10 to FM 1463. Highway 90 is a major east-west arterial that runs through the heart of Old Katy. TXDOT’s Highway 90 project is in its final planning stages and will have public meetings beginning in April 2022. Virtual Public Hearing with In-Person Option – US 90 from I-10 to FM 1463 (txdot.gov) The project will impact numerous businesses, many of whose improvements were built long before the prospect of a widened Highway 90. Because of this, TXDOT’s acquisitions may impact the functionality of remainder properties and compromise existing parking fields – two issues that can significantly impact the compensation offered by TXDOT and that often require consultation with experts experienced in evaluating takings in condemnation cases.
If you’re a property owner impacted by the Highway 90 Project, our experienced team at McFarland is here to assist you. We welcome inquires at all stage of the condemnation process. For a primer on what to expect at the outset of a condemnation case, see this excellent blog post from McFarland partner, Dan Tobin. TXDOT is Coming for a Road Near You, Now What? From Project Initiation to Offer | McFarland PLLC