In 2014, the NCDOT began a study into traffic congestion at U.S. 70 in the Brier Creek area. The designs for improvements were issued in 2016 and it was decided that the project would be divided into three sections:
- Section A – U.S. 70 corridor upgrades from west of T.W. Alexander Drive to I-540.
- Section B – Converting the intersection at U.S. 70 and T.W. Alexander Drive into an interchange.
- Section C – Converting the intersection at U.S. 70 and Brier Creek Parkway to an interchange.
The project is currently undergoing an environmental impact study and several alternatives for approaching the project are being considered. However, if you own property in this area, you may want to contact an eminent domain attorney to advise you in the event that you are contacted by a Right of Way or property appraisal agent from the state.
Purpose of the U.S. 70 Improvements at Brier Creek Parkway and T.W. Alexander Drive
This part of U.S. 70 is heavily traveled, due to its proximity to RTP. Over the years, traffic congestion has increased, as well as the number of vehicle crashes. This project will improve traffic flow and relieve the traffic woes of RTP commuters. Raleigh and Durham are growing very quickly, so it’s important that the NCDOT address poor traffic conditions now, before they become even more unbearable.
How and 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 a just use of eminent domain. However, it is far from a simple acquisition. Though it is possible for eminent domain proceedings to occur without a 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 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 Raleigh
If your property lies in or near the land needed for the U.S. 70 Improvements Project at Brier Creek Parkway and T.W. Alexander Drive, 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 2019. 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 this project, call our Raleigh 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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