Tiffany Dowell, author of the Texas Agriculture Law Blog at Texas A&M, gave me permission to re-publish her excellent article on what landowners should consider when a pipeline company asks permission to survey. Here is her article. The only thing I would add is that the landowner should find out the tentative proposed route, and if it is not acceptable, try to negotiate an alternate route before the surveyors begin their work.
Thanks to Tiffany. You might want to subscribe to her blog.
Question: If a company with eminent domain power has contacted me about obtaining an easement across my property and now wants access to survey, can I keep them off of my land?
In Texas, courts have held that by granting condemning entities the right to condemn land, this includes the right to enter onto the property to conduct surveys to select lands to be acquired. Of course, this means that surveys may be conducted prior to the property actually being condemned. “Ancillary to the power of eminent domain is the authority to enter upon the land to make a preliminary survey.” I.P. Farms v. Exxon Pipeline Co., 646 S.W.2d 544 (Tex. Ct. App. – Houston (1st Dist.) 1982). Courts have issued injunctions against landowners attempting to interfere with this right.
There is a line of court cases that limit this right to visual inspections and lineal surveys only, refusing to allow more invasive procedures like core drilling or subsurface soil testing. See Coastal Marine Serv. v. City of Port Neches, 11 S.W.3d 509 (Tex. Ct. App. – Beaumont 2000).