Lawyer says landowners need to know rights about easements - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lawyer says landowners need to know rights about easements

Lubbock, TX (KCBD) - Several South Plains landowners have been ordered to allow electric transmission lines to go up across their properties. The Texas Public Utilities Commission issued a signed order granting Sharyland Utilities the ability to route the lines between two new electric power collection stations from Silverton to Cottonwood.

The condemnation process allows the courts to take land for public use such as building overhead power lines, but one Plainview attorney says landowners need to know their rights before they sign on the dotted line.

"When you buy a car, for example, if your not an educated buyer or an educated seller you may be taken advantage of in the market place simply because you don't understand the value of what that's worth," said attorney Brent Hamilton.

Hamilton says t landowners across the South Plains need to be aware of this fact before they sign their land away.

"They're pressured, and they believe that if they don't sign the document they'll be facing some sort of lawsuit," Hamilton explained.

Hamilton says over the last 18 months, land was selected to route a renewable energy power line through high-wind regions to metropolitan areas. Hamilton says that, due to the easement request, landowners have to give up part of their land.

"They don't have a choice. The law, however, provides that they must compensate the landowners for the fair market value of the property acquired."

But Hamilton says most landowners don't understand the process.

"What rights does the transmission company have when it crosses their property? And how much are they going to be compensated for having this large transmission line located on their property, sometimes adjacent to their home?" Hamilton asked.

One family Hamilton represents was expected to have the route cross 500 feet in front of their home. They were able to work out a deal with the companies allowing them to move the route around their property.

Sharyland utilities will construct part of the route, and it released this statement:

"Sharyland Utilities is committed to working with landowners in a fair, open, and honest manner. Sharyland plans to pay a fair market value for transmission line easements, and once these lines are built, many landowners will be able to continue to use their land as they had before."

Hamilton says most landowners still don't know their rights, and need to be aware of their options.

"In the past, there have been cases where landowners were unaware of rights, unaware of the value of their property, and as a result they were taken advantage of."

© 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.

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