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Owner must provide evidence of property value loss due to overflight effects. (Cases in Brief).

In a case of first impression in that state, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that, in the absence of evidence that flights from a city airport over a landfill directly impacted the property's surface and caused the value to decline, the landowner could not recover compensation for the overflights.

Travis County Landfill Company (TCLC) owns a 133-acre tract of land located about one-half mile south of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport's main runway. Although a landfill permit was obtained in 1988, the property remained undeveloped raw land because an ensuing lull in building projects resulted in an insufficient stream of construction waste, causing TCLC to postpone opening the landfill. The property was subject to an earlier avigation easement granted to the U.S. government, which allowed military aircraft unobstructed passage over the property. However, the military base was closed in 1991. When civilian flights began operating from the airport in 1997, TCLC sued the City of Austin, alleging that the flights over its property constituted an unconstitutional raking. The trial court awarded TCLC nearly $3 million for the taking. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court. The city appealed.

The state supreme court said to establish a taking of private property by aircraft overflights, the landowner had to show that the overflights directly; immediately, and substantially impacted the land so that the property was unusable for its intended purpose. The court said TCLC presented no evidence that the civilian overflights caused overflight effects that interfered with the use of TCLC's property as a landfill. The lower court decisions were reversed and TCLC was awarded nothing.

City of Austin v. Travis County Landfill

Supreme Court of Texas

March 28, 2001

Rehearing Overruled

May 30, 2002

(AJ/06/A.-$ 10)
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Publication:Appraisal Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Apr 1, 2003
Previous Article:Court rules that individual property value increase must result from countywide reassessment. (Cases in Brief).
Next Article:Still bouncing and being bounced along. (Financial Views).

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