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Man awarded $1 for 105 acres Port condemned/Citizen


twa

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Just wanted to share one of the locals troubles when you try to fight the goverment. You obviously take what they give you first ;)

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15960235&BRD=1574&PAG=461&dept_id=532240&rfi=6

01/19/2006

Man awarded $1 for 105 acres Port condemned

By: DANA BURKE , Citizen Staff

For years, Seabrook residents have said building the Bayport container facility north of town would hurt property values.

They might be surprised at how much one man got for his tract of land - $1 for 105 acres.

Pasadena land owner Glenn Seureau, II, thinks he was robbed of his by the Port of Houston Authority. He plans to continue an uphill battle with the Port until he is paid fair market value for the land.

One civil court judge, on the other hand, seems to think $1 is compensation enough for Seureau's land, located just north of Seabrook.

Seureau fought for nearly three years to protect his property, in his family for more than 150 years, from the Port's power of eminent domain, only to lose his case in May of last year in the court of Harris County Civil Court Judge Lynn Bradshaw-Hull.

The judge ruled that having paid Seureau $1, the Port now owns the fee simple title to the property. Seureau was also ordered to give back the Port's previous payment of more than $1.9 million at 5.75 percent interest and pay the Port's court costs at the same interest rate.

Seureau has appealed the ruling, and he and his attorneys are currently in negotiations with the Port.

Port officials declined to comment on the case, but confirmed that they are working with Seureau to reach an agreement.

The conflict began in September 2002, when a special commission held a hearing regarding the Port's request to condemn Seureau's land. Seureau did not attend the hearing, and the commission ordered the Port to pay him approximately $1.9 million for the property.

The Port deposited the funds into the registry of the court, taking constructive possession of the land, but Seureau refused to take the money or relinquish the title to the property.

"I didn't think (the Port) had the right to take the property," he said, adding that the Port's need for the land seems to be based on private rather than public interests.

The Port plans to build a portion of the Houston Cruise Terminal on the property.

Seureau also believes $1.9 million is less than the market value for the land, which he had planned to develop with multi-family residences.

He was later advised by an attorney that he did not have the right to contest eminent domain and withdrew the $1.9 million to pay for further appeals regarding the market value of his land.

The Port brought Seureau to Bradshaw-Hull's court on May 16, 2005 to obtain the fee simple title that Seureau had withheld until that point.

On May 17, the judge excluded the testimony of both Seureau and his only expert witness, Louis Smith, saying that neither man could provide evidence that was relevant or reliable regarding the market value of Seureau's land.

According to court documents, the judge's final ruling was based on a lack of evidence to support Seureau's argument.

Seureau also made a motion to exclude the testimony of one of the Port's expert witnesses, Matthew Deal. The court denied that motion.

Seureau, who lives in his 180-year-old family home next door to the recently condemned property, said that although he is not familiar with the judge's intentions, he sees Bradshaw-Hull's ruling as a "punishment" for trying to challenge the Port.

"I was forced to settle for less than market value," he said.

Bradshaw-Hull declined to comment on the case since it is on appeal.

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Local governments beating stick is imminent domain...

It should be ONLY for public works of importance...

AND for such a thing it should be a set amount of something to the effect to twice the market value NOT market value....

Not to build townhouses, not for a cruise ship firm, not for a stadium that another guy is going to own...

The more they use it thought the faster its going to get restricted.

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Guest Gichin13

That sounds like a major reversal about to occur or poor reporting, not sure which. How could a judge find a piece of property worth $1 that the city offered $1.9 million to obtain? That sounds utterly ridiculous to me.

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regardless, eminent domain for private purposes is complete ****.

And I'll point out.

The reason the Supreme Court ruled in favor of it, a while back, is because

  1. It's been going on for 100 years
  2. It was challenged in court 100 years ago, and upheald.

Back then it was done because the city of Hypothetical decided (corectly) that if it didn't have a railroad, all the businesses would move to Cleveland. But in order for the city to get a railroad, the railroad needed a strip of land, pretty much straight through town. Solution: Sieze the land (paying market prices), and give it to the Cleveland, Mythical, & Hypothetical Railroad Company.

(Now, if the article is correct, and the judge just declared this guy's land was worth $1 because that was the judge's way of punishing a citizen for getting uppity, then Hizonner needs to get hisself shot. But that's not a case of "emminent domain for private purposes is evil".)

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There is definitely something missing from that story.

I'm guessing someone is trying to stir things up... but I will wait for more information before I judge it.

Poorly written story,This is what you are overlooking:

"He was later advised by an attorney that he did not have the right to contest eminent domain and withdrew the $1.9 million to pay for further appeals regarding the market value of his land."

The dollar paid simply legaly gets the title to the land,Him having to return the other money w/interest is simply squeezing him to settle. ;)

The Port Authority plays hardball down here :laugh:

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