Eminent Domain Attorney in Aberdeen and Southern Pines
If you’ve driven along US 15-501 in Southern Pines or along US 1 from Saunders Street to the 501 split, you know how much traffic and commerce there is. In order to alleviate the traffic congestion and reduce wrecks, the NC Department of Transportation has started planning a construction project that will limit left turns and add a median to the road. The end result will be a 2-mile “Synchronized Street” where drivers can turn right to make U-turns to reach their destination without blocking traffic or lengthy waits in turning lanes.
While this plan may be beneficial, the almost $28 million project is not a small undertaking. Property acquisition is budgeted for $1.1 million, meaning private citizens will have to relinquish their land to NCDOT. If you are contacted between now and 2024 by a right of way agent for the NCDOT, reach out to our eminent domain attorneys. We help Aberdeen residents understand their rights and use our legal experience to advocate on your behalf to get the settlement your land is worth.
The Timeline of the U.S. Highway 1 & 15-501 Improvement Project
Currently, the timeline to begin land condemnation or construction has been suspended. Due to COVID-19, funds from NCDOT were moved from projects to public health and other areas, so this has caused delays for multiple projects. This is important because it can give you ample time to plan and speak with an eminent domain attorney in North Carolina if you’re concerned your property may be affected by this road construction project.
What is Eminent Domain?
Eminent domain refers to the US or state government’s right to obtain property from private citizens as long as they are fairly compensated. In the past, property obtained via eminent domain could only be used for projects deemed to favor public good, but the Supreme Court Case Kelo v. City of New London determined that the government can also use eminent domain on behalf of private developers to further economic development or run utilities.
NCDOT projects are considered beneficial to the public good, therefore, a fair use of eminent domain. However, property owners still deserve fair compensation which is often not offered from the state, which is why it’s necessary to speak with an experienced eminent domain attorney can provide guidance and ensure that you are treated fairly.
What is Land Condemnation?
In an eminent domain case, land condemnation refers to the actual seizure of property. Basically, while eminent domain is the right to take land, land condemnation is the act of taking it (with fair compensation). This in no way refers to condemning land or property because it’s unsafe or hazardous.
What is the Eminent Domain Process in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, once a public project, like updating US 1, is announced, they hold meetings that are open to the public. If your property is in the vicinity of a project, you can learn more about the project and if your property will be affected. If it’s determined that your property may be acquired under eminent domain, contact an attorney immediately to help guide you through the process.
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 appraises the property.
- The government will make an offer. Do not assume that the initial offer will be fair. The first offer will be based on an appraiser hired by the government,
- If the property owner and the government agree on compensation, the sale will move forward.
- If compensation cannot be agreed upon, eminent domain proceedings will begin.
Eminent Domain Proceedings
Eminent domain proceedings can occur without prior negotiations. Here’s how it works:
- The government initiates the eminent domain proceeding by filing a complaint and declaration of taking in the superior court of the county where the property is located.
- The property owner or NCDOT requests the appointment of commissioners within 60 days after the property owner files their answer to the complaint. The commissioners are disinterested property owners residing in the county.
- The commissioners will visit the property, hear testimony, and hold hearings to determine compensation.
- If the property owner is still not satisfied with the compensation, he or she can appeal within 30 days and the case will be heard by a jury.
Eminent Domain Resources for Landowners
The NCDOT does try to minimize the number of homes and businesses affected by its projects, mainly to help save money, but sometimes, it is unavoidable. Fortunately, the NCDOT offers relocation assistance for residents and businesses displaced by eminent domain as well as paying for their property. This assistance can come in the form of rent payments, moving costs, and paying for property storage, if necessary. An eminent domain lawyer can assist you in determining the type of assistance you are qualified to receive.
Eminent Domain Lawyer for Aberdeen Property Owners
If your property lies between on US Highway 1 or US 15/501, your land is at risk of being acquired using eminent domain, and you may eligible for more than simply the cost of your land. The experienced eminent domain lawyers of Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP will review your case and help you receive just compensation, as well as any related assistance funds in which you are entitled. In some cases, you may be eligible for compensation for business losses as well.
If you are contacted by a Right of Way agent regarding this project in Southern Pines and Aberdeen, call our law firm immediately at (919) 615-2473 or complete the form below to speak with us about eminent domain and land condemnation. We will guide you through the process and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your time, property, and any other associated costs.