Random Thoughts on Eminent DomainSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Random Thoughts on Eminent Domain

31 August 2006 at 6:08:59 PM

I was talking to someone from Glen Rose today about using eminent domain for the purpose of the Wheeler Branch Reservoir project. Apparently, the county was able to make arrangements to buy land from all the principal tracts it wanted and needed to use, but not one; one owner apparently ratcheted up the price to a high level that was much more than had been paid for the other land areas. Therefore, Wheeler Branch found itself forced to use eminent domain to get the land and pay a fair price for it.

I read of a similar situation in Willow Park, about land being taken for a regional waste water plant.

Annetta landowner William Mitchell confirmed a settlement Wednesday with the City of Willow Park concerning approximately 30 acres of land condemned under the power of eminent domain.

Willow Park officials condemned the property, which was identified as a possible location for a regional wastewater treatment facility, in September of last year. According to Mitchell, the city has now agreed to reimburse approximately $15,000 he spent on legal fees defending the property.

The condemnation was lifted weeks after Mitchell sponsored a billboard in February which read, “help stop eminent domain abuse in Parker County.” ..

Johnson noted however, there were negotiations with Mitchell prior to the eminent domain action.

“Eminent domain was not the first step that was taken,” he said. “There were some hoops that we attempted to jump through prior to the eminent domain action.”

Though apparently satisfied with the settlement, Mitchell maintains the move was an abuse of power and said the use of eminent domain is out of control in Texas.

“The land they eminent domained was way out of their city limits and nobody asked them to come outside of their city limits and become a water and sewer provider,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “My definition of eminent domain — stealing the things others work for.”

Here's the deal. I don't like, on one level, eminent domain being used to take anyone's land for any reason. However, IF the reason is for the public good and is something that is related to taxes I am paying and not benefitting a private company, I'm grudgingly for it. After all, we are a community and sometimes you have to do things for the community good.

One person I spoke to today, although he worked downtown Glen Rose, actually lives at Sand Flat in Johnson County. One of my ancestors owned that land originally and donated part of his land to build a baptist church there; in fact, he and other family members are buried in the cemetery that is near the church. Other ancestors of mine (and probably yours) have donated land for schools, etc. No one at that point was forced to give up land (at least not that I know of) but did it out of generosity of spirit and to build up community. And I don't think anyone can argue whether a church, etc is in the public good.

But I draw the line at using eminent domain for use of a private company. Why should a farm that has been in the family for six generations be taken for a road that isn't even a public highway and is run by a private company, for example? That's one of the issues, of course, with the Trans Texas Corridor.

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