You see your business and livelihood. They see an obstacle.
Is your restaurant in the path of the government’s eminent domain project? While you can almost never fight the taking, you can pursue maximum compensation. But this is unlike negotiations you’ve done before, so don’t take chances.
If any day-to-day business is built around a strict routine, it’s the fast food restaurant. Everything from staffing to food preparation is carefully scheduled around the business cycle. When something disrupts the cycle, chaos – and lost revenue – often ensues.
We help business property owners in North Carolina pursue maximum compensation and navigate the complex process when their fast food restaurant – and livelihood – is threatened by eminent domain. Whatever impact you’re facing or experiencing on your fast food property due to eminent domain, we can help you.
Be aware of the vital aspects of your fast food property that may be affected by a taking, including:
Changes in traffic flow
Reduced access to your fast food restaurant
Drive-thru blocked or narrowed
Reduced signage visibility
Taking of some or all of your building
Property nonconformance with local regulations
It is important that you know your rights and options as a property owner and fast food business owner. Even the smallest taking could spell disaster.
We have helped many fast food owners get significantly more compensation for the taking or easement affecting their property than the government’s initial offer. Since we’ve been in business, we’ve helped our clients get on average nearly 3x their initial offer from the government.1
Issues you may face in getting a fair valuation for your fast food property
Eminent domain is a very deep section of the law, grounded in the Constitution and expressed in North Carolina law in ways that set it apart from other states. Here are some issues you may be facing when the government wants to take all or some of your fast food restaurant property:
When you’re notified of an eminent domain taking, you’re being notified that the NCDOT intends to eventually condemn, or take, your property. The government will make you an initial offer, but that offer is almost certainly too low. You can – and almost always should – reject it and contact an attorney to help you fight for maximum compensation.
Sometimes, the NCDOT or another condemning authority does not officially take your property but through their actions, they affect your fast food property’s usability and value. This process of effectively taking your property without an official condemnation is called inverse condemnation.
The NCDOT may tell you that an easement on your land won’t impact operations much. But an easement can have many serious effects on your property, including interfering with crucial parking spots or forbidding parking completely. An easement can require that your signs, fences, drive-thru lanes, parking lots, or even buildings be demolished. Slope easements can cause access problems, water control issues, and so on.
When the NCDOT or condemning authority makes an offer for your fast food restaurant property, they’ll base it on an appraisal. They won’t always show you that appraisal, though mistakes happen often. But beware that an eminent domain appraisal is far more detailed and complex than a typical appraisal, and commissioning an appraisal on your own may harm your case.
We have built a network of land experts across the state that help us determine the highest and best use of your land and try to prove the true value of your fast food restaurant property.
Sometimes, an eminent domain taking forces you to move your business elsewhere. Moving a business is no small task, and many property owners do not realize that relocation expenses can be negotiated for as part of eminent domain compensation.
Fast food restaurants facing eminent domain must account for associated fixtures, from cooking appliances to walk-in freezers and even dining area furniture that is bolted in place. Transferring these items is often out of the question. An experienced eminent domain attorney can help you understand what you can and cannot seek compensation for in eminent domain.
Eminent domain process: Fast food restaurants
Some key steps in the eminent domain process for fast food restaurants include:
Project is announced. This usually involves one or several public meetings as the plans are finalized.
Property acquisition phase. With plans finalized, the NCDOT or condemning authority will contact owners and make offers for their property.
Construction begins. Demolition and construction can begin even before all property is acquired.
Contact an attorney at 1-877-393-4990 for a free case evaluation as soon as you know your property will be impacted by NCDOT construction. We may be able to work with the NCDOT in the early planning stages to reduce the impact on your business!
Frequently asked questions about fast food restaurant takings
Can private companies use eminent domain?
Yes, a private utility may be empowered with eminent domain authority. However, private companies must meet the same standard as the government to justify a taking: it must be for a “public use.” Unfortunately, eminent domain may sometimes be used by governments to the advantage of private developers, even at the expense of the community.
Can you fight eminent domain?
Fighting a taking is rarely successful. In nearly every case, it is more advantageous to focus on seeking maximum compensation instead.
How is just compensation determined in eminent domain?
The short answer is an appraisal, but there is much more to it than that. Every property is unique, and the appraisal should account for your property’s highest and best use. Many subtle factors, such as environmental or engineering factors, may increase the value of your property significantly.
Our experienced attorneys work with a statewide team of land experts, such as appraisers, surveyors, land planners, and engineers, to help us determine what your property is really worth.
Does eminent domain pay for loss of income?
Unfortunately, lost profits are not compensable under North Carolina eminent domain law and voicing your concern about lost profits to the NCDOT may harm your case. However, there may be compensation available for many other damages and losses. Talk to an eminent domain attorney before you agree to the DOT’s offer.
Are eminent domain proceeds taxable?
It depends on a variety of factors. Both the federal government and the state of North Carolina generally consider the sale of property through an eminent domain proceeding a taxable event. However, that does not necessarily mean you will owe taxes – your tax burden depends on your unique circumstances. Consult a tax professional!
Is any property exempt from eminent domain?
North Carolina does not have exemptions. The NCDOT can take land from churches, residences, and businesses of any kind, though the property owner is entitled to fair compensation.
Experienced representation makes a difference
There are only a handful of former NCDOT attorneys who now work for property owners.
We have four.
In our experience, the NCDOT often fails to properly consider the special needs of the fast food industry and, therefore, often fails to offer owners maximum compensation. That’s where we can help.
Since we’ve been in business, we’ve helped our clients get on average nearly 3x their initial offer from the government.1
There are only a handful of attorneys in NC who practice eminent domain exclusively, and even fewer with NCDOT experience. We have several. That’s why its worth getting in touch with us for a free case evaluation.
Here’s how it works:
1) Tell us about your situation.
2) We research your property as needed, using DOT maps, our own technology, and experience to see the exact effects.
3) We let you know what we think a fair offer would be. This evaluation is free, and there’s no
pressure or obligation to hire us after.
But please don’t wait to act. Waiting can hurt your case, and the cost is the same: free.