Eminent Domain

Texas School District Backs Off Effort To Seize a 79-Year-Old Man's Home for Stadium Parking

The Aldine Independent School District had wanted the property as part of a $50 million redevelopment of its high school football stadium.


A Texas school district has dropped its efforts to seize a 79-year-old man's home for an expanded parking lot.

After minimal discussion during a Thursday night meeting, the Aldine Independent School District (ISD) board voted unanimously to end its efforts to acquire a one-acre parcel and home owned by Travis Upchurch.

"We are as a family completely relieved. We can go back to our normal lives. We don't have to worry about what's going to happen to our dad or where dad's going to go," says Tara Upchurch, Travis Upchurch's daughter.

For the past several months, her family has been frantically trying to fend off the Aldine ISD's efforts to acquire Upchurch's property for a high school football stadium's parking lot—part of a $50 million rebuild of the stadium.

In June, the family received a letter from a third party hired by the district, intimating that the school would try to take the property via eminent domain if a voluntary sale wasn't agreed to.

Upchurch's property is already bordered on three sides by stadium parking, and the district owns the lot across the road as well. Tara Upchurch told Reason in August that the family had always assumed the district would purchase her father's property (which had been in the family since 1916) once he passed away.

The idea of forcing her father to relocate before then was terrifying, she said. Yet despite repeated efforts to work out a deal with the district that would allow Travis Upchurch to live out his remaining years in the home, the school district appeared intent on acquiring the property as soon as possible.

Last month, lawyers for the district took a new approach: They told Tara Upchurch that her father's property wasn't necessary for the stadium project and that the district was primarily concerned about liability issues associated with having someone live so close to its construction projects.

Then last night, one week before school elections, the school board voted to stop its efforts to acquire the property.

"This will allow Travis Upchurch to retain ownership and landowner responsibilities for these properties. To this end, this matter is concluded and all negotiations have ceased," said Aldine ISD in a statement.

Tara Upchurch says that she's grateful for this result, but she's concerned that the district might take up its eminent domain efforts again after the election.

"We don't put anything passed Aldine right now. We are nervous," she says.