Central Texas couple awarded $500K from state in land dispute

Posted at 7:47 AM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 08:47:21-04

A Central Texas couple was awarded $500,000 in a land dispute after the State of Texas took a parcel of their land for the 94-mile-long Interstate 35 expansion project.

A Bell County jury stated the State of Texas did not pay them enough when it began the project.

The jury award is fives times the amount the state originally offered for the private property through eminent domain.

The land dispute involved a 9,500-square-foot area that housed part of an auto salvage business operated by W.H. and Sandra Anderson for more than 30 years.

The state filed for condemnation of the property to expand I-35 in 2012. The Andersons were given a conditional agreement to be paid about $65,000.

During the expansion, the Anderson's northern driveway on the frontage road was moved about 110 feet south. The couple's lawyer, Justin Hodge of Marrs Ellis & Hodge, LLP, said the new driveway caused several safety problems and accidents. Hodge said large trucks and heavy-duty salvage vehicles were being forced to use the driveway with other retail customer traffic.

"The overwhelming power that the state holds under eminent-domain law can often be abused, creating unforeseen and unwarranted safety issues for property owners," Hodge said. "These cases can be difficult to win, but I know the Andersons are relieved that this award will enable them to better address the problems caused by the taking of their property."

A press release issued from the couple's lawyer said this is only the second case brought to trial since 2009 based on hundreds of eminent-domain filings by the state for the I-35 expansion project.

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