Arlington City Council Votes to Limit Its Own Condemnation Powers
Usually cities try to maximize their eminent domain powers, but the Arlington City Council in April 2001 voted unanimously to adopt a higher standard for votes needed to condemn personal property for “public purposes.”1 The law change, which was first suggested by Councilman Ron Wright, requires a supermajority of votes on the council before land may be condemned. Prior to the vote, the City could take property with only a simple majority vote among the council’s nine members. Wright began pushing for the change out of concern over recent condemnations approved by the City, such as the takings in the early 1990s to make way for the Ballpark in Arlington. He was surprised at the amount of support he received from the City Council, especially given that Mayor Elzie Odom and a few on the Council initially criticized the proposal. Even though this change in the law is mainly symbolic, in that a condemnation will now need only one more vote, the City has nonetheless demonstrated that it takes private property rights seriously. So far, Arlington is the only major City in Texas to adopt such a supermajority requirement.2
1 “Arlington City Council,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 11, 2001, at Metro 5.
2 J. Taylor Rushing, “Council Members Agree to Support Supermajority Condemnation Votes,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mar. 21, 2001, at Metro 4.