North Carolina Eminent Domain Lawyers
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How NC Eminent Domain Law Works: A Case Study of Duke and the Durham-Orange Light Rail

The government can condemn private homeowners’ property, home, or business under the law of eminent domain. But did you know that the government can also take on large, wealthy, and politically powerful entities like Duke University to gain the land they seek? Durham-Orange Light Rail, Duke, & Eminent Domain Law The decades-long plan to build the Durham-Orange Light Rail, a 17.7-mile light rail set to run between UNC Chapel Hill hospitals and NC Central University in Durham, has hit a snag. At the time this blog was posted (March 2019), Duke had yet to sign a commitment to the project, prompting Durham councilmembers to consider taking the portion of land they need from Duke through eminent domain. What is North Carolina Eminent Domain Law? Eminent domain, also known as “condemnation” or “land condemnation,” simply means that the government has the power and the legal right to take private property for public use. Both the federal and state governments have their own legislation in place for when either decides that someone’s land could be used to serve a public purpose. For North Carolina, eminent domain law is found in Chapters 40A & 136 of the NC General Statutes. How Does North Carolina...

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How to Potentially Get Paid, Even When the NCDOT’s “Fair Offer” Is Zero

Inverse condemnation is a funny thing. Not ha ha funny, but rather odd funny. It’s a back-handed way property owners can use to try to make the government pay them for damages an eminent domain project causes to their property. Advantages of Inverse Condemnation In simplistic terms, here is how inverse condemnation can potentially work to your advantage. When the state needs property for a road or other public project, it must purchase your property or file an eminent domain lawsuit to obtain the rights to your property. Under North Carolina eminent domain law, the state must pay you just compensation for damages caused to that property, whether it’s digging up your front yard for part of the road, or taking parking spaces from your business for a permanent utility easement. In order to pay you for damages, they must reach an agreement with you as to what is fair, or file an eminent domain lawsuit. If they do not file suit, but your property is damaged by the project, you can file an inverse condemnation lawsuit. This lawsuit will force the government to review the damages caused to your property, and either reach an agreement with you as to...

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Not Paid for Leased Space Under Eminent Domain? (What if You Could Get Paid?)

When you lease property that the NCDOT has condemned under eminent domain, they may often ignore your lease and/or may claim it is valueless and undeserving of just compensation. Sometimes that is true. But we have seen the NCDOT use this argument as a one-size-fits-all solution to the question regarding leases. Many Eminent Domain Scenarios are Potentially Negotiable No argument is one-size-fits-all and many are potentially negotiable - even when the NCDOT says it is not. You just need to know what to ask for, the right experts to help you ask for it, and try to prove your case. Sometimes, a successful outcome is dependent on having the right technological and staffing resources at your disposal. And sometimes you have to get creative in your thinking and research, as we had to do for two business partners who leased space for one of their KFC restaurants. Since we've been in business, we have increased the average offer for our clients by 182%2 "No Right to Compensation" These business partners were involved in a highly complex eminent domain scenario, for which the NCDOT said they had no legal claim to compensation. Technically they were correct. Despite that technicality, the complexity...

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Tips for Handling Your Eminent Domain Case Alone

As you read through this checklist, ask yourself: "Would I rather have an experienced attorney complete these items for me?" If the answer is yes, don't wait. If you hire an attorney early on a contingency basis, it costs you the same. This also reduces the risk of making a serious mistake.   We've found many people think it might be easier to deal with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on their own. If you're of that mindset, here's a checklist that might be helpful as you spend what could be the next several months (sometimes years) fighting with the NCDOT for a fair offer for your property. Determine whether a second opinion in the form of an independent appraiser is necessary or helpful to your case. (This may not be as easy as you'd think. Here's why.) Determine whether a local appraiser has the qualifications to perform an appraisal for an eminent domain case, and whether that appraiser would do well in front of a jury, if needed. Contact the condemning agency to obtain a copy of the plans as they relate to your property - and possibly nearby properties. Document every contact with the condemning agency,...

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Eminent Domain Attorneys Answer Top 5 Concerns

  Q&A With Eminent Domain Attorneys Stan Adams, Jason Campbell and Kenneth Bryan When property owners get a letter from the government stating that they plan to seize their home, business, or land under eminent domain for a new road or other project, they have a lot of questions. Eminent domain is complicated. And often that is why property owners come to us. There can be a lot of confusion and they want answers to their questions. We sat down with NC Eminent Domain Law Firm attorneys Stan Abrams, Jason Campbell, and Kenneth Bryan to discuss some key property owner concerns. 1. How do I know that what the government offers me is fair? Kenneth: When the government wants your land, North Carolina law says they must pay what's fair. But "fair" is relative. We represented a cattle farmer whose land the government took and built a major highway clean through his ancestral property, forcing him to quit the cattle business. (And to boot, he had to drive 2 miles down the new highway just to get to the other side of his land.) Was that fair? Another client of ours, who had owned a seafood business in Durham for...

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NC’s Street Designs and What to Do When Your Property is Needed for One

By Ken Bryan Safety and efficiency are always a priority when planning communities, towns, and cities. From the street designs, to sidewalks, bus stops, and crosswalks, engineers take many factors into consideration before handing over their blueprints to the builders. Thanks to innovative research and design, modern street designs have been improving the welfare and community aspect of the places we live, work, learn, and play. Yet to property and business owners whose land is taken for the streets or for a right of way, it can become a financial burden. Here, we offer a bit of information on four street designs you may have seen being constructed in North Carolina towns and communities. And we offer information on what you can do if your property lies in the NCDOT's crosshairs when building these new street designs. Superstreets Almost half of all car wrecks occur at intersections. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts this figure right at 40%. It is not surprising then that NC towns and cities are incorporating more superstreet designs into community and urban planning. Superstreets are designed primarily to try to eliminate the dangers of left turns at intersections. Their construction has been proven...

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10 Eminent Domain Obstacles Business Owners Face – and What We Can Do to Help

Sometimes it may seem as though, if you are a business owner in North Carolina, the eminent domain laws are stacked against you. Many of our business clients would agree. That is why they came to us. Two of us used to work as Attorneys General for the state representing the NCDOT. Why did we leave the NCDOT to go to work fighting for individual property owners? We saw too many property owners, business owners in particular, leaving good money on the bargaining table. And we wanted to do something about it. Why Does it Seem Business Owners Face More Obstacles? While it is true businesses can often face a tougher uphill climb with respect to getting paid for damages to their property, this is by no means done on purpose. Rather it is an unfortunate result in how North Carolina's eminent domain laws have been cobbled together over many years - some dating back to the early part of the 20th century when we were still an agricultural state. Our state has grown so fast, particularly over the last couple of decades, some laws and statutes that probably should not be on the books, still remain. And some can...

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12 Things Business Owners Should Know Before Hiring an Eminent Domain Attorney

If you have received a condemnation letter from the NCDOT we urge you to contact an eminent domain attorney. But make sure you ask the right questions to try to get the attorney that is best suited to your situation. Here are some questions to start with - some may surprise you. Does your firm focus solely on eminent domain cases? When it comes to your life's work and the business you've invested in you probably don't want a general lawyer - the guy who wrote your will, fixed your traffic ticket, or handled your home closing. There are just too many nuances in eminent domain law - and many of them may not be recognizable to someone who doesn't practice eminent domain law day in and day out. That's what we do. That's all we do. And we think it shows in how we fight for our clients. Here's what one client had to say: "Mr. Bryan was a non-anxious presence for us at every step of the way, and he handled many desperate phone calls from us over the past years. We were encouraged by his professionalism, his strength of character and his willingness to fight for us,...

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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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