Condemning Entities Access to Land In Texas

In Hailey v. Texas-New Mexico Power Co., 757 S.W.2d 833, 834-35 (Tex. App.--Waco 1988), the court determined only lineal surveys may be allowed prior to condemnation. Hailey, 757 S.W.2d at 835. Not all courts agree, however. See Puryear v. Red River Auth. of Tex., 383 S.W.2d 818, 820-21 ( Tex. Civ. App.--Amarillo 1964, writ ref'd n.r.e.)(river authority was allowed to conduct core drilling prior to condemnation). Moreover, as explained in Lapsley v. State, 405 S.W.2d 406, 411 (Tex. Civ. App.--Texarkana 1966, writ ref'd n.r.e.), a condemning authority must "investigate all aspects of value" in order to negotiate in good faith, as is contemplated by the statutory requirement that negotiation is a prerequisite to exercising eminent domain powers. See also State v. Hipp, 832 S.W.2d 71, 78-79 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, writ denied) (an offer "must be based on a reasonably thorough investigation and honest assessment of the amount of just compensation due the landowner"). In Byrd Irrigation Co. v. Smythe, 146 S.W. 1064 (Tex. Civ. App.--San Antonio 1912, no writ), the court found that the owner's property "should not be invaded again in order that witnesses may be qualified to lower the price" that the condemning authority would pay for the property. Byrd, 146 S.W. at 1065. The Byrd court noted, however, that the condemning entity and its surveyor had free access to the land for more than a year for the purpose of making any and all surveys necessary. "They cut roads through the brush and timber . . ., felled trees, and ran from 30 to 40 miles of lines . . . . They were permitted to do all they desired in connection with the land." Id.