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As the population grows, so does the need to transport oil and gas, sewage, electricity, water, and people across the state. To satisfy demand, Texas agencies, and some private companies, have been given the power to take privately-owned land for “public use.” The power to do this is called eminent domain. The process they have to go through to get the land is known as condemnation.

The entity taking your land wants to get you out the door as quickly as it can, and to pay you as little as possible. But it doesn’t matter what they want. You have a right to a fair process that results in your getting full fair market value for your land. Don’t expect any help from the entity that’s taking your land. You are going to have to fight for those rights. You can go it alone, but the process is complex and specialized, with many pitfalls. Braun & Gresham can help you navigate that process. Unlike many other condemnation firms that only advocate for more money for your land, we fight to protect your land, your privacy, and to get you more money.

The Braun & Gresham Difference

A lot of other condemnation attorneys represent landowners, but they also represent oil and gas companies and government entities. We don’t wear both hats – we only represent landowners.  We work with landowners to develop a strategy that meets their needs, taking into consideration that some clients might want to protect their land and views, while others might be willing to take the line or road but want to get the most money possible. We have a long history of relationships with industry leaders, making the negotiation phase of condemnation much more fluid and transparent for our clients.   As some of our clients have said:  “With (Braun & Gresham), we had a voice, and a voice the (industry leaders) would listen to. Most people lose, and we didn’t.”

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Active Condemnation Projects

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Learn about Condemnation and Eminent Domain

Condemnation, or as its sometimes referred to as, ‘eminent domain’ is a process used by government, and other private entities (“condemning authorities”) to acquire private property for public use. Condemnation comes in many forms- roads, transmission lines, pipelines, right-of-way, easements, sewer lines, etc.- but its purpose is universal: land is taken from a private citizen and devoted to a public use or, in some instances, for economic development.

An important thing to remember is that even if you’ve received a letter in the mail from the government or some private entity informing you of its intention to take your land, this does not mean that it’s a done deal. There are many ways to influence the condemnation process to ensure that your wants and needs are met, but it’s important that you engage with knowledgeable professionals who can help guide you through the condemnation process.

Our condemnation practice is built on three principles:

  • Helping our clients plan the route (of the power line, road, or easement) that will do the least damage to the use of their property
  • Getting full fair market value for our client’s land
  • Negotiating documents (such as easements) to limit the uses of condemned land to prevent future intrusions and stop companies from taking advantage of landowners

On September 1st, 2011, Texas law on condemnation changed. Entities seeking to acquire private property by eminent domain will now be required by law to a) make a “bona fide offer” to acquire the property voluntarily before wielding their power of eminent domain, and b) make a much stronger justification of the reason for which the entity intends to acquire the private property. Whereas previously, a condemning authority was only required to assert the “purpose” for which they intended to use a condemned property, now they are required to show that the property will be used for a “public use” or benefit.

This change in the law makes it more difficult for condemning authorities to condemn property without justification and it provides landowners a better chance of obtaining fair compensation for the true value of their property. These requirements also result in an extended window of time for landowners to act on notices of condemnation, leaving more time for planning and negotiation.

With this change in the law comes whole new conversations between landowners and condemning authorities; conversations that require knowledge of the law, language, and deadlines that make up the process of condemnation. As one of the top property rights firms in the nation, Braun & Gresham, PLLC stays abreast of new developments in the law, and is committed to guiding you though the challenges of the condemnation process.

Understanding the Condemnation Process

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Condemnation Success Stories

Winning at the Special Commissioners’ Hearing

eminent domain lawyersIt’s the proverbial insult added to injury, but many times over: a utility company has decreed it intends to seize some of your land for its own use; has given you little input on which part of your land it uses; has offered you an even smaller amount of compensation for such use; has refused to negotiate any of it; and has now filed a lawsuit against you. This is exactly what happened to the Jacksons and Millers, both faced with impending transmission lines across their precious ranches, and both forced to fight, with the help of our Eminent Domain Attorney and Counselor, Patrick Reznik, for the future of their land and legacy.

Easing the Pain of Eminent Domain

eminent domain attorneyIn the unregulated world of pipeline condemnation, landowners are often left to arm wrestle single-handedly against large corporations for their rights and the future of their land in what sometimes feels like a done deal. Luckily, the Fords were able to engage Braun and Gresham in time to negotiate the best possible terms for the easement of a natural-gas pipeline that would run through their 2,517 acre ranch in South Texas. In this Braun & Gresham success story, learn how Eminent Domain Attorney Patrick Reznik was able to help ‘ease the pain of eminent domain’ for the Fords.

Facing Condemnation with Experience and Tough Negotiating

eminent domain lawyerNo one ever wants to receive mail with the words condemnation or lawsuit. Yet a growing number of Texas landowners are getting letters from utility companies featuring those threatening words. In this story, we highlight two clients with two very different types of property, but both facing the construction of transmission power lines across their land, and a taking by eminent domain. Thankfully, Braun & Gresham Eminent Domain Attorney, Patrick Reznik was able to successfully negotiate the terms of the power line easement to satisfy the needs of both clients.

Land Condemnation Doesn’t Have to Mean Certain Loss

eminent domain attorney in texasAsk the residents of Round Rock’s Brushy Creek neighborhood what they like about their property, and the answers are essentially the same: the convenience, the quietude, and especially the natural creek area behind their homes.

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