"After hearing from a number of concerned constituents, I filed HB 2470 to provide property owners with recourse when an easement modification detrimentally affects their property value," Thompson said.
HB 2470 addresses the rights of the property owners if their property values decrease due to the use of an easement.
Utility companies have the right-of-way to easements, which can be used for electric and telephone lines. Because of this, they do not need the approval of nearby residents to use the easements, a CenterPoint Energy representative said.
When CenterPoint raised electrical towers in Silverlake last year, residents claim they were not given fair notice, and they are now left to deal with decreased property values. Because part of the Silverlake subdivision is part of CenterPoint's easement, citizens do not have a defense against this happening, Zebak said.
"The way the bill is written, it is not intended to prevent utilities from doing projects like this, but it is meant to incentivize them to communicate to the neighborhood," Silverlake resident Dean Zebak said.
One of the electrical towers went up next to Zebak's driveway, causing his interest in the issue.
"One of the towers went up right next to our house. We were just really surprised when the utility company decided to place that tower there," Zebak said. "For a lot of people, your home is your biggest asset."
To Zebak, the towers are an eyesore and could potentially be a danger to the community. Teenagers could climb on the towers and potentially get injured, or the towers could be damaged in a storm, Zebak said.
While he knows it is probably too late to address the towers in Silverlake, he hopes the bill sets a precedent.
"Even if it does not help us out, it would help other homeowners in the future across the state," Zebak said.