Eminent Domain Invoked To Build…. a Parking Lot?

(NewsReady.com) – A Texas school district has provoked outrage after launching an eminent domain process against a local man. School officials want to evict the retiree from his home so they can build a parking lot. Many residents are questioning whether a parking lot is important enough to justify such a draconian move.

On July 18, Tara Upchurch spoke at a board meeting of the Aldine Independent School District in Harris County, Texas. However, Upchurch wasn’t there to talk to the board about her children. Instead, she was pleading on behalf of her father, 78-year-old Travis Upchurch, who lives in a house his family has owned since 1905. Unfortunately, the school district wants to build a parking lot for its new football stadium on Travis’s land — and when he refused to sell, it launched an eminent domain process to compulsorily purchase the land from him.

Travis has lived in his home for 46 years, and Tara explained to the school board exactly what that means. He’s known that house since he used to visit his grandparents there; he’s spent most of his adult life there. His daughter told the officials, “it’s a place we never thought he would leave.” She said the family was shocked when the district started the compulsory purchase process. Travis doesn’t see why the school even needs such a big parking lot; “they don’t ever fill up the stadium,” he said.

The school district admits “these are very delicate conversations” but claims it’s trying to “balance community needs and individual needs.” But does the community need a stadium that can seat 10,000 people and a parking lot to match — and, even if it does, would that justify forcing a man off the land his family has owned for 118 years? The district says it only started the eminent domain process because Travis refused to sell them the land. Maybe they should just have accepted that if the owner of something doesn’t want to sell, you can’t buy it.

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