Eminent Domain

There’s a good opinion piece in today’s Ft. Worth Star-Telegram on the subject of eminent domain.  I’ve written a little about this topic before.  First, when the Cowboys and the City of Arlington grabbed private land for the new stadium, and again when the City of Keller took land from a developer for flood control (after apparently creating the problem by directing the water onto the developer’s land!).

As some of you may know, Governor Perry has come out in favor of a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of Texas property owners in eminent domain cases.  But, given his past support for the Trans-Texas Corridor (supposedly dead now, but probably really just awaiting a name change), I wonder just how far he’s willing to go in protecting our rights.  The law he signed during the last session didn’t really protect much. 

Given that, I have to agree with Roy Shockey on what a constitutional amendment should address:

An amendment to the Texas Constitution should plug loopholes, answer questions and protect the rights of Texas property owners. But if we’re going to amend the constitution, let’s get it right.

Let’s clearly define what is meant by the term public use and spell it out in writing.

Let’s eliminate the “blight” exception that enables the wealthiest to prey on those who have the least.

Let’s establish guidelines for compensation whenever property is seized for legitimate public use under the new statute.

Let’s address the issue of diminished access so our retained property values and access will be protected.

Let’s put the burden of proof in “public use and necessity” disputes on the back of government instead of where it is now — on the shoulders of private citizens whose property is being targeted.

The only thing I would add is a provision for punishment of any local or state official who participates in any type of scheme to deprive any citizen of his or her land for a private interest.  I think hanging them from lamp posts by their own entrails should be sufficient, but then I’m not know for being subtle or sympathetic towards thieves.

Just for the record I should inform you that I know Roy Shockey from the Keller Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association (KCPAAA). 

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