The Kinston Bypass is a massive road construction project, taking undeveloped land and minimally developed areas and using the land for a $381 million freeway that will stretch 22 miles across three counties. While the Bypass will provide convenience and safety, it is also likely to impact the lives of property owners, as over $48 million of that money is budgeted for property acquisition. If your land lies in the construction area for the Kinston Bypass, our eminent domain attorneys can work on your behalf to help you secure fair compensation.
Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NCDOT is facing budget concerns that are causing them to delay several projects. At this time, the timeline for Kinston Bypass has not been affected, but any changes will be added here.
Purpose of the Kinston Bypass
The Kinston Bypass is planned to be a four-lane, median-divided freeway that extends from La Grange, in Lenoir County, to US 70 near Dover, at the Craven County/Jones County border. This 22-mile road will have a 70 mph speed limit and is designed to minimize traffic congestion and improve efficiency for drivers, as currently, US 70 is a heavily driven stretch of road.
How & When The NC Government Uses the Power of Eminent Domain
Eminent domain is the right of the government to obtain private land with fair compensation. Typically, private property is obtained by the government for public use projects only, but it can also be acquired for private use.
NCDOT projects are beneficial to the public since we all use the roads. In the eyes of the public, these projects are just use of eminent domain. However, it is far from a simple acquisition. Though it is possible for eminent domain proceedings to occur without prior negotiation, that is not the norm. Before these projects begin, a public meeting is announced. If you own property in an area that could be affected, it’s important to attend these meetings and ask as many questions as possible. The NCDOT does its best to minimize its use of eminent domain, but sometimes it’s impossible to avoid.
If it’s determined that the state will need to acquire your property for a project, here’s what you can expect:
- The government will send an agent to inspect and appraise your property
- An appraiser selected by yourself and your eminent domain lawyer performs an independent appraisal
- The government will make an offer. Never accept the initial offer, as the government wants to purchase the property at the lowest price, which may not be fair
- If the property owner and the government negotiate and agree on compensation, the sale will proceed
- If compensation cannot be agreed upon, eminent domain proceedings will be initiated by the government
Eminent Domain Proceedings
It’s always in the best interest of all parties to come to an amicable agreement, but if you cannot agree to the compensation offered by the government, eminent domain proceedings will begin. An experienced eminent domain lawyer can represent you, guide you through the process, and ensure fair compensation.
Here’s what you can expect once eminent domain proceedings begin:
- The government begins eminent domain proceedings by filing a complaint and declaration of taking in the superior court of the county in which the property is located
- The property owner or government entity requests the appointment of commissioners within 60 days after the property owner files their answer to the complaint. Commissioners should be disinterested property owners residing in the county
- The commissioners will visit the property, hear testimony, and hold hearings to determine value and compensation
- If the property owner is still not satisfied with the ruling of the commissioners, he or she can appeal within 30 days and the case will be heard by a jury
How is “Fair Compensation” Determined?
Any real estate agent can tell you that determining the value of a property is never an exact science. Appraisers are supposed to consider the land’s best use in determining value, but that can be subjective.
For example, if a property has a home built on the property, the value is increased. If the home is removed, as it would be for a road project, that value would be considered to be lower.
In addition to the value of the land, appraisers also need to consider:
- Damages and loss of use of other parts of the property, in cases where only part of the property is acquired
- Businesses losses, in the case that you are losing a business due to eminent domain
- Eligibility for relocation assistance
Information is power. An experienced eminent domain lawyer will help hire an independent appraiser, so your team is armed with the knowledge of real estate prices in the area and all types of compensation in which you may be eligible. Remember, the government will attempt to purchase your land for the lowest price possible. Never agree to any offer before consulting with your eminent domain attorney.
Hire an Eminent Domain Lawyer in Kinston
If your property lies in or near the land needed for the Kinston Bypass, the NCDOT may acquire it using eminent domain. Currently, the project is undergoing an environmental impact study and several alternatives are being considered. Right of Way acquisitions are expected to begin in 2026. Could your land be affected? Contact an experienced eminent domain lawyer at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP for advice on how to proceed.
If you are or already have been contacted by a Right of Way agent regarding the Kinston Bypass project, contact our law firm immediately at (919) 615-2473 or complete the form below. We will guide you through the process and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your property, and any other associated costs that come with eminent domain cases.
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