David H. Melasky

2777 Allen Parkway, Suite 1000, Houston, Texas 77019 | Tel. (713) 965-9984 Fax (888) 204-8252 | email: info@melaskylaw.com


Environmental Law:  Balancing the Needs of Society

On the land across a major highway from a chemical plant is a natural wetlands and prairie which is being preserved for the protection of the Atwater Prairie Chicken, an endangered species. This nature preserve, on the outskirts of Texas City, Texas, the home to a large group of major refining and petrochemical facilities, represents the challenge of environmental law: achieving progress without sacrificing our health or heritage. The Law Office of David Melasky represents persons and parties with the same range of diverse interests - from the corporation seeking to obtain approval for a facility to the individual seeking a remedy for contaminated property. 

Eminent Domain: Private Rights versus Public Needs

Texas law provides the landowner with significant protections when real property is being acquired by eminent domain. A government or a utility can not obtain possession until the landowner is afforded a hearing and allowed to present evidence of the value of the land being taken as well as proof of any diminution in value of the remainder of the tract in cases where only a portion of a piece of property is being acquired. The landowner is also allowed to cross examine witnesses. This hearing, which is like a mini-trial, is held before a panel of three Special Commissioners appointed by the judge and determines the amount of money which must be paid to the landowner before possession of the property can be taken by the government or utility. Effective preparation and participation in this hearing is essential to protect the economic and other legal rights of the landowner. David Melasky, the former supervisor of eminent domain litigation for the County Attorney’s Office in the most populous county in Texas, provides legal representation in all phases of the condemnation process including hearings before Special Commissioners.   

Inverse Condemnation and Regulatory Taking 

Texas law recognizes two different situations in which a property owner may sue a governmental body for actions which cause economic damage to real property.

Inverse condemnation is the right of a landowner to obtain compensation when a governmental activity causes a decrease in property value. A sewage plant with odors making neighboring properties undesirable or a new road which acts as a dam and causes flooding of adjacent land are examples of governmental actions that have a significant effect on the value of private property so that the government may be required to compensate the landowner for a decrease in value. 

Regulatory taking typically occurs if government has a valid purpose to restrict the use of private property but imposes restrictions more drastic than are reasonably necessary to achieve the legitimate purpose. For example, if a landowner seeks City approval to build a shopping center on 5 acres of vacant grass land and the City (or County) refuses to approve the plans unless the landowner agrees to build a detention pond to hold the runoff from 20 acres of land, a court may find the City’s requirements go beyond what is necessary to address the impact that the shopping center will have on drainage. In such a case, the excessive requirements may be deemed a “regulatory taking” and the landowner may be entitled to obtain compensation in a law suit. 

The Law Office of David Melasky provides representation to clients with regulatory taking, inverse condemnation and other issues that involve the right of individual and corporate citizens to enforce the legal and constitutional limitations on the actions of government. 

The Law Office of David Melasky represents clients in all of the areas below.

  • Contaminated Real Estate
  • Condemnation of Real Property by Government or Corporationsp
  • Environmental Litigation 
  • Actions against Government for damages to Real Property 
  • Legal Disputes involving Engineering and Technical Issues
  • Environmental Compliance 
  • Damage to Real Estate by Drainage Diversion or Interference 
  • Contract Disputes 
  • Environmental Permit Hearings


David Melasky is an attorney with over 30 years experience in civil litigation involving environmental, real estate, employment rights, probate, commercial and personal injury matters. Prior to entering private practice, David was an Assistant County Attorney in Harris County from 1979 to 1990, serving as Division Chief of both the Environmental Division and the Eminent Domain Division which included supervision of the condemnation of right of way for the Hardy Toll Road. David received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a Law Degree from the University of Houston and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 26 years in the U.S. Army Reserve.


For an appointment to discuss your legal issues, 
please email info@melaskylaw.com,
call at (713) 965-9984 or fax (888) 204-8252



Representative Cases:

Managed the condemnation of right of way for the Hardy Toll Road, a major new limited access highway with an expedited project schedule. Successfully achieved acquisition of easement rights in time to meet all project deadlines.

Successfully obtained a landfill permit in a contested case hearing in which the permit was opposed by the City of Houston.  Hearing lasted approximately 40 days. 

Represented a major corporation in a suit to recover for the unconstitutional taking of private property caused by a municipality directing excess flow through a drainage ditch with the resulting erosion encroaching on a commercial building. Settlement in which a covered drainage conduit replaced the open ditch created additional parking and improved the property value.

Obtained compensation of 10 times annual wages for worker injured by the release of toxic gases at a job site. 

Counseled clients in minimizing risk of environmental liabilities in management decisions and transactions involving real estate, professional services and waste management. 

Challenged the constitutionality of an attempt by a City to apply Flood Plain regulations to limit the usage of several 20 year old homes.  Settlement resulted in an agreed judgment  ending flood plain enforcement  for  existing conditions for the homes involved  and permanently authorizing virtually complete usage of the previously disputed areas of the homes.

Successfully obtained a jury verdict for breach of contract in the absence of a signed agreement by proving that the opposing party knew of the contract document, knowingly accepted payments under the terms of the contract and thus was bound by the contract terms.

Responded to a personal property tax suit with a constitutional challenge to the validity of the tax statute. Result was an agreed judgment with the taxpayer paying less than 10% of the original amount sought by the government. 

Not Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  No designation has been made by the  Texas Board of Legal Specialization for a Certificate of Special Competence in the Area of Environmental Law.