Proposition 7 - Eminent Domain Amendment: About.com, Austin TX, 10/21/07

By Jacci Howard Bear

Summary prepared by Eminent Domain Watch

HJR 30, aka Proposition 7, (click here for full text: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/80R/billtext/html/HJ00030F.htm) is an amendment to the Texas State Consitution that requires government entities to sell property acquired through eminent domain back to the previous owners at the original price paid, if it is not put to the prescribed use within 10 years. Under previous law, the original owner could repurchase the property for fair market value at the time the public use is cancelled.

The proposition was approved by voters in the November 2007 election.

The amendment was necessary because selling the property back to the previous owner at the original price, were it below market value, could be considered a grant of public money and would be in violation of current law.

Conditions under which the new law applies are:

  • the public use for which the property was acquired by the entity is canceled,
  • no actual progress is made toward the public use during a “prescribed” period of time
  • the property is unnecessary for the public use for which it was acquired.

Arguments favoring the law were that it treats property owners more fairly and discourages indiscriminate use of eminent domain. Arguments against it were that it gave previous owners an unfair financial windfall, and was unnecessary legislation
because 10th anniverary cancellation for property acquired through eminent domain is extremely rare.

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