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, we have addressed issues like this in the past through a number of negotiation techniques and strategies.
Will they let me keep the expensive new generator I just bought?
If it is not permanently affixed to the property, it’s yours to keep. In this instance, the property owner’s expensive new generator was affixed to the property. So, technically, he is not allowed to take his new generator with him after the DOT condemns when he relocates. However, there are strategies to try and get around this. And we have helped others in similar situations keep affixed property before.1
I just put $100,000 into my home for renovations. Will I get it back?
Maybe. The state is not looking at your property as another homeowner would. They want to tear it down and build a road through it. You will have to argue that these improvements make your home more valuable. I have seen the NCDOT ignore new swimming pools and other improvements claiming the market actually penalizes properties for these improvements. Yet, there are certain strategies we have used in the past that could potentially help you get more for your overall property – in essence trying to gain you back the money you put into the property to fix it up.
Will they relocate me? What about my tenants?
The state is required to help you find a suitable home. Same goes for your tenants. Yet how do you relocate someone in a ‘suitable’ place when they’ve just lost their family farm and the home their grandparents built at the turn of the 20th century? We can’t pull that out of a hat. But again, the right negotiation strategies can potentially gain more compensation.
How do I know if I’m getting a fair offer?
That’s a loaded question. Most people don’t know. NCDOT appraisals can be 50 to 100 pages long and full of gobbledygook most property owners won’t understand. Some go out and get their own appraisal. Getting your own appraisal is a huge mistake because you run the risk of not comparing apples to apples. That is why we suggest you contact us to discuss your specific situation as soon as you receive that first condemnation letter. There are a number of strategies we might be able to use that may potentially help you get a fair and just offer above what the NCDOT is offering.
Properties in the way of N.C. 540 Southeast Extension
These folks own homes, land, farm, rental properties, and businesses that are in the path of the new Southeast Expressway from N.C. 55 in Holly Springs to U.S. 401 at Wake Tech. This 8-mile stretch of land is on the government’s 2018 radar for construction – and these properties are in its crosshairs right now.
Understandably they’re worried. They should be. Pretty soon, they’ll be hit with all kinds of paperwork, offers, ultimatums, deadlines, and other things they probably won’t understand. I know. Before I joined the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm, I worked as a lawyer on behalf of the NCDOT. I left because I saw that few (very few) property owners had lawyers representing them. And I saw good money left on the negotiating table time after time.
These folks will soon receive well-crafted official looking offers from the NCDOT. And more than $250 million is up for grabs. That is why I enjoy meeting these property owners – to let them know they have someone on their side who understands both sides. They don’t have to roll over and play dead by accepting the government’s first offer.
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This project has put many of these property owners in limbo – some for 85+ years. That’s not fair. We want try to give those who are impacted a fair shake.