Pipeline easements & takings

If you have been told that your property stands in the way of a pipeline, you probably have questions. Well, we have answers for you.

How do pipeline easements and takings work?

New technology has aided in the extraction of natural gas from previously unattainable sources. New pipelines are being built and new infrastructure added throughout North Carolina and the rest of the country.

In addition to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and other state agencies, private energy companies like Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas can condemn your property whether you agree to it or not.

The good news is that these agencies and companies have to pay you for the pipeline easement or taking based on the highest and best use of your land. But in addition to compensation, there are two other big concerns in pipeline easements and takings.

Three areas of concern in pipeline easements and takings

The first concern relates to the issue at the top of most people’s minds when it comes to eminent domain: just compensation. The second has to do with what’s in the easement agreement, and the third is the location of the pipeline.

How do you know if your offer is fair?

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to prevent the pipeline company from taking part or all of your land, so you should focus on seeking maximum compensation. So how was the offer for your property calculated? You may never know, and here’s why.

Let’s imagine that Piedmont Natural Gas is running a new gas line five miles through Pitt County and they are coming through 50 properties. They will send letters to property owners to establish contact. They may or may not do an appraisal upfront – sometimes they do not.

They may, instead, find some comparable sales, do their own calculations, and make you an offer based on this information instead of visiting your property to appraise it. If they do a physical appraisal of your property, this appraisal can be from 50 to 100+ pages in length and filled with language you may not understand. Further, they may or may not offer you a copy of the appraisal.

It’s likely the wrong move to get your own appraisal. We urge property owners not to get an appraisal without first consulting an experienced eminent domain attorney. We have had many people call us who hurt their own cases by paying for an appraisal that came back lower than the condemning authority’s.

You may not be able to get your own appraisal even if you wanted to. Eminent domain appraisers tend to work consistently for the state or energy companies, not landowners. These agents can be hard to find and expensive, and some will simply refuse to work for individual property owners. That’s why we encourage you to get help from an experienced attorney who has the resources, contacts, and knowledge to determine what compensation is fair.

What does the easement agreement really say?

What a lot of people do not take into consideration is the language in the easement agreement. This language is very important because it dictates your rights on your property, and the rights of the pipeline company.

This language in these agreements can be vague and vague language often benefits big companies with lots of full-time lawyers. Sometimes the language is simply, “Put in one or more gas pipelines.” That leaves you at risk of severe impact indefinitely, so you want to include language that limits what the company can do in the easement area.

Easement agreement language, like compensation, is something that may be negotiated. We have often been able to have both adjusted to our clients’ benefit.1

Where exactly will the pipeline be located?

Let’s say the gas company is running a natural gas pipeline through a large tract of vacant land you own. Someday, you might want to develop that land for a subdivision. If that happens, you might need a road or utilities that cross the easement area. You want to include in the easement agreement something to preserve your future rights.

There is some flexibility in the eminent domain process, and the condemning agency may be willing to adjust the project based on your needs. For example, we handled a case where the initial easement agreement proposed a pipeline cutting through the middle of our client’s land. This was going to restrict future property development. We presented this issue to the pipeline company and they agreed to have the pipeline run along the property line. The revised location helped preserve the value of the remaining property.1

How we can help with your pipeline condemnation

Two major areas in which we can help you are (1) using our resources and professional relationships to build your case and (2) drawing on our immense experience and knowledge on your behalf.

Relationships with many NC condemnation agents

Often the same contractors that work on NCDOT cases also handle some of the pipeline cases – the appraisers, right of way agents, engineers, land planners, and so forth. Having more than 85 years of combined experience, we know many of these people.

In fact, several of our lawyers worked for the NCDOT before leaving the government to represent individual property owners. NC attorneys who have worked for both the state and property owners are rare.

Experience handling pipeline cases

While pipeline cases are not as common in North Carolina compared to roadway and transportation condemnation, we have handled quite a few properties that have been condemned due to pipelines.

Pipeline condemnation is complicated. You want an eminent domain law firm with significant experience negotiating for a fair price but – just as importantly – the language in the easement agreement and the location of the pipeline.

Why choose the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm?

We have a long history of getting more compensation for our clients. Since we’ve been in business, we’ve increased the average offer to our clients by 207.9%!1

Submit our online form to tell us about your pipeline situation. Your case evaluation is absolutely free and there is no obligation to hire us afterward. Or, call 1-877-393-4990 any time.

Get a FREE case evaluation from North Carolina eminent domain attorneys

We’ve drawn on our combined 85+ years of experience to help increase the average offer for our clients by 207.9% since we’ve been in business.1

For more information about pipeline condemnation and eminent domain litigation, contact the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm to learn how we may be able to help, or call 1-877-393-4990. You can also use this online form to tell us about your pipeline situation.

Your case evaluation is absolutely free.

Get a free case evaluation

Get a free case
evaluation today.

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.

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