Texas is home to eight of the nation’s 15 fastest-growing cities and boasts five of the top 10 cities in the total number of new residents. This growth is not a new phenomenon. Texas has added more residents than any other state since 2000. But what happens when the infrastructure growth associated with the Texas population boom impacts private property owners?
An inherent tension exists between public projects needed to accommodate Texas’s expansive growth and fundamental property rights protected by the U.S. and Texas Constitutions. Eminent domain—the power of a governmental entity (or those with its delegated authority) to take private property and convert it into public use for just compensation—is designed to balance public and private property interests. Class discussions and reading assignments will explore whether the current eminent domain framework protects property owners and the public. The subject is generally divided into two interrelated parts: (1) the origins of eminent domain, public use, and public necessity; and (2) “just” compensation (including evidentiary and procedural issues that impact value).