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DOT pays more than $2 million to settle land dispute

The N.C. Department of Transportation has agreed to pay more than $2 million to Chick-fil-A to settle a dispute over the value of land that the state took from the restaurant.

The DOT used eminent domain to take a portion of a corner lot owned by Chick-fil-A to make way for the widening of Enola Road in Morganton, according to an attorney for the restaurant, George B. Autry Jr. of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog in Raleigh.

The property was reduced from approximately 1.6 acres to .9 acres and its direct access to Enola Road was eliminated, which forced customers to navigate through a shopping center behind the lot to reach the restaurant.

The DOT offered to pay $1.25 million in compensation to Chick-fil-A, a value that was based on a comparison of land owned by other fast food restaurants, including Bojangles and Hardees. But other Chick-fil-A properties weren’t included in the comparison — which was a problem, Autry said.

“Our argument was that Chick-fil-A is at the top of the food chain. There’s a big difference in value,” he said. “The second issue was that once you lost access to Enola Road, this was no longer a corner lot. It was now in a hole and you couldn’t have a restaurant there.”

After Autry showed the DOT the income figures from other area Chick-fil-A restaurants, he said the agency agreed to pay $2.075 million to settle the case on Aug. 6 following a mediation session.

Assistant Attorney General David P. Brenskelle of Asheville represented the DOT and did not respond to an interview request.

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