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 Eminent Domain Law Work?
The principle behind eminent domain land takings is relatively simple: the government has the power to force homeowners, businesses, and other entities to sell their property (or a part of it) to make way for a school, a road, an improvement, or any number of things that are deemed to be necessary for public use.
However, the government can’t just force you to give your property to them – they are required to offer you just compensation for whatever they take.
Can I Stop the Government From Taking My Land?
In most cases, you cannot stop the government from taking your property. Barring extenuating circumstances, the government has the legal right to acquire your private property. This is just one of the dozens of reasons why you should at least consult with an experienced NC eminent domain lawyer.
NC Eminent Domain Law Firm attorney Jason Campbell is a former NCDOT attorney. In other words, he worked for the other side. Having worked as an attorney for both the state and now, North Carolina property owners, Jason offers a unique perspective about eminent domain takings.
WRAL News reached out to Jason for his thoughts on the Durham-Orange Light Rail taking. In the news article, Jason said, “Duke is no different than you or I. If Durham wanted to take our houses, it could. If it wanted to take Duke’s land, it could. The only issue is just compensation." And trying to ensure just compensation for property owners is the primary reason Jason left his position as assistant attorney general for the state of North Carolina to join the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm.
Jason saw too many property owners leaving significant amounts of money on the table. All because they didn’t know any better. They didn’t know they could reach out to an eminent domain attorney for help.
What Is the Role of the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm?
An experienced lawyer from our firm can fight to try to get you more money than what the NCDOT initially offered.
In fact, since we’ve been in business we've increased the average offer for our clients by 187%*.
We've seen some of the mistakes homeowners (and their lawyers) have made when negotiating with the NCDOT, and we can help you try to avoid doing or saying anything that might hurt your case. We may also have insight about what's going on behind the scenes.
We've reviewed countless appraisals, and might know not only what types of errors an appraisal may have, but also who the appraisers are and what their tendencies might be.
Further, if you have to go to court, since we've worked both alongside and against many of the NCDOT attorneys you may face, we may be familiar with some of their strategies and can let you know what to expect.
What’s Next for the Durham-Orange Light Rail?
Government authorities are attempting to pursue alternatives to an eminent domain taking of Duke University property. Without this piece of land, the Durham-Orange Light Rail project will likely stall for even longer.
Jason weighed in on the issue saying, “Duke is the flagship university for the state. It is the highest ranked university in the state. It is a giant private employer. The state legislature is vested in making sure that Duke is happy.”
And that is just one more reason to hire the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm. We are vested in doing everything we can to try and make sure our clients are happy with the outcome of their case. Click here for actual case results and real life stories of some of our clients.
*Each case is different and must be evaluated separately. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Average based on each case's increase as of 12/31/17.