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N.C. 540 Southeast Extension Right of Way Seminar Questions Spark Second Seminar

When the government wants your property or business to build a highway, you're likely to have questions and concerns. Recently I had the privilege of speaking with a group of concerned property owners from Southeastern Wake County who shared some very valid right-of-way concerns over the N.C. 540 Southeast extension project. The News & Observer Property owners to be advised of rights during NC 540 extension work These questions, although deeply personal to each property owner, are pretty typical of the types of questions we might hear at our land taking seminars all across North Carolina. We'll be blogging about these and other questions in the near future, but for now, I wanted to share some of these legitimate concerns with you. What happens if the government takes my well? You can't live without water. The condemning authority must provide access to city water or dig you another well, if possible. If that is not possible, they will have to provide another place for you to live. How close can the road come to my home? I've seen roads and easements come as close as 10 feet away from someone's primary residence. For obvious reasons, this is not advisable. However,...

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Why Is NC Designing Complete Streets? And What If Your Property is Taken for One?

The concept of Complete Streets is pretty simple. It's a roadway that is functionally and aesthetically designed for everyone including cyclists and pedestrians - not just cars, trucks, and busses. That's why they are called "complete" streets. East Blvd., Charlotte. Courtesy: CompletestreetsNC.org It's a fairness for all concept - except those whose properties lie in their pathways. If your property is affected by one of North Carolina's proliferating Complete Streets projects, things may be far from "fair" from your perspective. Here, we explain why the NCDOT is suddenly interested in constructing Complete Streets in North Carolina, and what you can do if your property is needed for one. Why Complete Streets in North Carolina? In 2009, new NCDOT roadway policy changes mandated that, going forward, when they design new streets, the agency must consider all modes of transportation as they relate to safety, mobility, and accessibility. Complete Streets Benefits As more of us become more conscientious of our own health and that of the earth and its environment, many are seeking ways to replace their carbon footprint with their actual footprint by driving less and walking more. Still others enjoy taking the bus or bicycling to work or to run errands....

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Why Shouldn’t I Get My Own Eminent Domain Appraisal?

I’m coming clean.

I can’t stand caviar.

First (only) time I tried it I felt like Tom Hanks in the movie Big when he’s at the buffet table, tries a spoonful, and couldn’t spit it out fast enough.

And I’ll never understand why people pay tens of thousands of dollars for the stuff. Yet some of my friends and colleagues love these putrid little pearls. And they keep insisting that the more I “understand” its “complexity” the better it will taste.

I’ll take their word for it.

I don’t need to understand my food. And I don’t need it to be complex. I just want to enjoy it – and not have to pay a semester’s college tuition for it.

So what does my confession have to do with eminent domain?

My distaste for caviar and the fact that I wouldn’t pay a dime for the stinky stuff came to mind when I was trying to explain to a client why we felt it would be imprudent for her to get her own appraisal after the NCDOT came to her with a low ball offer.

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NC Property Owners Likely Owed Millions After Map Act Reversal -- Lawmakers Respond by Capping Interest

The Fayetteville Outer Loop is a North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) project which has been restricting property owners since it was first identified in the NCDOT’s corridor map in 1992 – 24 years ago. Construction didn’t begin until well over a decade later. And the project has several more years to go.

When completed, the 39-mile-long freeway will bypass Fayetteville and connect Fort Bragg to I-95. That’s good news for local Fayetteville traffic and interstate travelers who will finally be able to skirt the city without getting ensnarled in local traffic.

But this project has been nothing but bad news for more than 300 property owners in the Loop’s path.

They’ve been stuck in limbo for years – more than 20 years in many cases. Why? The North Carolina Map Act limited them from improving, subdividing, or developing their land once the state targeted it for future development. And they are very unlikely to be able to sell their property for a fair price because of all the restrictions potentially limiting its value.

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Easements Are Anything But Easy (What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You)

So the NCDOT doesn't want your entire property. They just want to pay you for an easement to access your home or business property for utility lines. Or maybe they just want to run a drainage pipe underneath your property -- or temporarily park construction equipment, while widening a nearby road. (That's not so bad, you think.) Pay close attention to that easement agreement. They will likely pay you one time and one time only. Even if they come back in 10 or 15 years and decide they need to raise a utility pole in your front yard, or build a power transformer, or dig that drainage ditch deeper, you may not get paid any more. When a government agency wants to take your land for an easement or a right of way, here's some free advice... Get an attorney to read the fine print carefully, footnotes and all. Many eminent domain attorneys will likely do this for free! If you're thinking, "Well that's because you're lawyers," you're exactly right. As lawyers (two of whom used to represent the NCDOT), we've seen what can happen to unsuspecting property owners who don't fully understand what an easement contract may potentially imply...

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Former NCDOT Eminent Domain Lawyers Share Why They Now Work for YOU

When the NCDOT contacts you with documents to take your property for a new roadway or other state project, it can be overwhelming and intimidating. Can they really condemn and take ownership of your home or business just like that? Yes. They can. Wouldn't it be comforting if you could talk to an attorney at the NCDOT who is sympathetic to your situation and could help guide you through the confusing and overwhelming condemnation and negotiation process? Or better yet, an attorney who used to work for the NCDOT who could give you the "inside scoop." Someone, for example, whose loyalties are now with the people - not the government. You can! And although there aren't many of these attorneys in North Carolina, you'll find two of them right here at the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm. Our Leaders - Former High-Level NCDOT Attorneys Stan Abrams and Jason Campbell used to negotiate on behalf of the North Carolina Department of Transportation as NC assistant attorneys general. One was even the primary attorney on the largest case the agency had ever faced at that point in time. Why did they leave? Here's their story... While the NCDOT has hundreds of resources...

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What Determines How Much I am Likely to Get for My Eminent Domain Taking?

There are a lot of things about the eminent domain process that are unfair. The most upsetting is that the government can just come in and take your land whether you want to sell or not.

To help try to make up for that, there’s a law that says the government has to pay you for what it is taking based on your land’s “highest and best use.” This is an attempt to protect people who’ve been sitting on a piece of valuable land, but haven’t wanted to sell it for one reason or another.

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Are Eminent Domain Laws Stacked Against the Property Owner?

Anyone who has heard me speak at eminent domain seminars knows that I tend to discuss how the eminent domain laws in North Carolina can seem like they’re stacked against the property owner whose land is being taken by the government.

Here’s why it may seem like the laws are not in your favor.

The Government Is Legally Allowed to Overlook Certain Real Estate Laws
Laws are written by the legislature, elected officials who must stretch every government dollar – your tax dollars – as thinly as possible. These laws are then interpreted by appellate judges who serve on the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court. They are not trial judges, and typically they don’t hear directly from property owners or condemning authorities. They are not real estate professionals either.

The legislature and appellate courts can allow the government to purchase or condemn land from property owners and pay less than what the property would fetch on the open market. While this may seem unfair, it is perfectly legal and not uncommon.

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NCDOT Won’t Budge? Enlist Your Neighbors in the Fight

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood – until the NCDOT comes knocking door to door.

When that happens, you know you’re in for a fight. And not necessarily a fair fight.

The good news (in a backhanded way) is that your next door neighbor may be in for the same fight. Maybe your neighboring business is losing half their parking spaces, or a next door neighbor’s home is being taken too. If that’s the case all of you may be in for the fight of your lives – or livelihood.

Band together. The Johnsons and their neighbors did. And, because there are often issues and situations an experienced eminent domain attorney may be able to address, that individuals might not necessarily consider, they hired us to review their individual claims.

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True Story Illustrates Why “Doing it Yourself” Can Cost You (Big Time!)

When it comes to hiring an attorney for a land condemnation, some may shy away at first because they think it might cost too much money. At the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm, we believe nothing could be further from the truth! We’ve often seen the opposite to be true.

In the 10 years that I’ve practiced eminent domain law on behalf of both individual property owners, and previously for the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), I’ve seen “do-it-yourselfers” make big mistakes. Breaks my heart every time.

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