Our Office LocationWeaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A.
196 N. Trade Street
Matthews, NC 28105
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Are Your Property Rights Affected?
The U.S. District Court has ruled that the Monroe Bypass project is to proceed forward to contract.
The North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) has taken four years to complete its environmental planning documents for the Monroe project. NCTA will now issue the bonds needed to finance and to award the construction contract to the low bidder. Landowners affected by the proposed route will soon be contacted by the NC Department of Transportation regarding obtaining the land necessary to build the road. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is an agency of the State of North Carolina.
The Monroe Connector/Bypass toll road is expected to open to traffic in late 2015.
Our team of lawyers has litigated condemnation matters at both the trial court and at the appellate court levels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
What is “eminent domain” or “condemnation”? Eminent domain is the power of a government to take private property for a public purpose. Condemnation is the legal process the government uses to legally acquire private property for a public use.
Can I stop the government from taking my property? Probably not. Although citizens have a right to fight or prevent the government from taking their property, it is very unlikely you will be successful. You would have to prove that the government project is not for a public purpose. Because of this heavy legal burden, it is very difficult to stop these types of projects.
What rights do I have to compensation for the taking or the damage to my land? The State must offer you “just compensation” for the property it is taking. The State will determine what it considers to be “just compensation” by hiring an appraiser who will calculate the value of your property being taken. This value must be for the “highest and best use” of your property. Frequently, property owners do not agree with the value that the State is putting on their property, but mistakenly believe they must take whatever the government offers them. You DO NOT have to accept the amount the State is offering if you do not believe it is just or fair compensation.
How is the value of my land or the impact to my property calculated? There are three primary methods that appraisers use to determine value. The most common method is through the comparable sales in your area. There are other approaches depending on the use, extent and nature of the property being taken. You may have a right for compensation for the reduction in value of any remaining property that you own after the taking by the State.
What happens if I have to move from my home because of the condemnation? If you are required to relocate as a result of the condemnation, then in addition to being compensated for the value of your land that is taken, you have the right to seek reimbursement of expenses for having to relocate.
Will my attorney fees be recoverable from the State? Unless you can prove that the condemnation is unnecessary, then you cannot be compensated for your attorney fees. However, our firm considers these cases on either an hourly or a percentage (contingency fee) basis which is often tied to the amount of additional funds we can obtain on your behalf.
Do I need an attorney? If you believe that the State is offering or will offer you a fair amount of money for your property, then you may not need an attorney. However, the State is certainly motivated in these tough economic times to obtain as much land as it possibly can for the least amount of money. You must protect your own rights. In these types of cases the State is your adversary.
What are the advantages of retaining an attorney? Probably the first advantage is that it gives you the best chance to get the highest compensation for your property. Your attorney will relieve you of the hassle of the negotiations. Your attorney will negotiate with the State and the appraisers to obtain for you the best possible result. Sometimes, the only way to obtain fair compensation for you is through litigation. Our lawyers are experienced in these matters and are prepared to take your case to a jury to determine what is fair. To best protect your interests, you may need to hire an appraiser to assist you. We have worked with many appraisers and will recommend several to you for consideration.
Do I need an appraiser? Each case is different depending on the amount of the taking and the government’s initial evaluation of your property. In some cases, a settlement can be negotiated without an appraiser. In most instances it is wise to obtain an independent appraisal.
How much do appraisers cost, and can I get reimbursed for this expense? The cost of obtaining an appraisal is different in each case because the cost depends on the size of the tract of land being taken, whether it is a permanent or temporary taking, whether buildings are taken or impacted, etc. The cost of your appraisal itself is not an expense that the Court can award. However, the cost of any testimony by an appraiser in giving his expert opinion is most likely recoverable as Court costs at the trial of your case.
What can I do if I don’t agree with the amount the State offers me? If you cannot reach an agreement with the State regarding the value of your property, the State will file a condemnation action. The moment the State files a lawsuit against you for condemnation it will have the actual ownership of your land it is seeking to condemn. The government cannot take your property without paying what it deems fair compensation first. The State must deposit their last offer with the Clerk of Superior Court and you are permitted to withdraw that money immediately after an initial court hearing. Your lawyer will file an Answer to the State’s lawsuit and demand additional compensation.
Who is paid the money that the State deposits with the Court prior to filing the Condemnation action? If a mortgage company has a deed of trust on the land, or you owe taxes on the land, then your attorney must negotiate an amount of money to be paid to the mortgage company or for your taxes since your land is the mortgage company or taxing authority’s collateral for your debt.
What happens if a condemnation action is filed? You or your attorney will need to file formal pleadings with the Court. At some point, the parties are required to participate in a mediation where you and your attorney will meet personally with the attorney for the State and a neutral mediator, who will try to resolve the matter. Mediations in these cases are successful about 50% of the time or more. If the case is not settled, the matter will be placed on a jury trial calendar and twelve of your fellow citizens will be asked to determine the fair compensation for what the state took.
How long does it take for my case to come to trial? Most condemnation cases take about 12 months from the date the case is filed to the actual trial date. You are entitled to interest on the amount you recover from the time of the taking to the payment by the State.
What expenses will I incur in addition to attorney fees? In most cases, your largest expense is the cost of an appraiser. There will be other expenses, such as court costs, reporter fees, subpoena fees, postage, etc., but these expenses are fairly small costs and should be discussed with you when you employ your attorney.
If you have any additional questions, please call.
WEAVER, BENNETT & BLAND, P.A.