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Texas Strengthens Private Property Rights
Texas Strengthens Private Property Rights  | eminent domain, beachfront property, Texas, Galveston, condemnation, public land, public use, lowball, lowball offers,

Texas Business reports:  The Texas legislature toughened private property rights in a bill which was signed into law Monday.

Texas governor Rick Perry Monday signed Senate Bill 18, which implements landmark eminent domain reforms to strengthen private property rights.

SB 18 requires local and state government entities interested in acquiring private property to first make an offer, in writing and based on an appraisal, to the landowner to purchase the property through a voluntary sale for a fair price.

This prevents entities from making lowball offers knowing the land can be taken by eminent domain if the landowner doesn't accept.

The bill also requires condemnation petitions to specifically state the public use for which the land is needed, eliminating instances where land is taken without current plans for its use.

Additionally, the bill makes it clear that eminent domain may only be used for public use.

 Further, SB 18 requires a government entity that takes land to first have a record vote stating the land to be taken and the project for which it is being taken.

It also requires entities to provide all appraisals of the property they have during negotiations to ensure landowners understand the fair market value of their land.

Finally, this legislation also allows landowners to repurchase land at the price they were paid for it if it becomes unnecessary for the project for which it was taken, or if no actual progress is made toward the project in 10 years, even if the project has not been cancelled.

This was the latest step in Texas eminent domain reform that started several years ago.  At the last session, the Texas legislature passed a measure allowing Texans to vote on a constitutional amendment requiring land to be taken only for public use, ending the seizure of property for use by a private developer.

Additionally, local governments can no longer condemn an entire area for redevelopment by claiming it is blighted without proving that each section is blighted.

The amendment also protects Texas landowners against further grants of eminent domain authority by requiring each new grant to receive a two-thirds vote in each house of the legislature. Texas voters passed this amendment in November 2009.