The North Carolina Department of Transportation has agreed to pay $2.5 million—almost twice the amount it originally offered—to compensate a Union County landowner for taking 23 acres of vacant land as part of the construction of the Monroe Bypass, the attorneys for the landowner report.
George Autry and Stephanie Hutchins Autry of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog in Raleigh report that their client, an LLC, owned an approximately 121-acre tract of vacant land that was zoned for light industrial use and was adjacent to an existing, well-established industrial park. The company had paid to extend utilities, and a road, from the park to its land.
Stephanie Hutchins Autry said that her client owned three adjacent properties, which, for clarity, she referred to as A, B and C. The DOT took some land from Property A and some from Property B, and so it filed two separate condemnation suits, one against each property. (No land from Property C was taken.)
Autry said that the company successfully petitioned to consolidate the case into one lawsuit implicating all three properties. Generally, the greater the extent of the property “affected” in an eminent domain case, the more compensation a landowner can recover. Autry said that was especially true in this case—the property was much more valuable as a whole than it was if splintered into several pieces, some of which would then lose access to roads or utilities, or no longer be adjacent to the industrial park.
“If you look at it altogether as it should have been, as a whole, you could see how the whole thing was damaged,” she said.
Norman Walters, a real estate broker in Charlotte who specializes in industrial sales, provided support for the opinion of the company’s appraiser that the project damaged the value of the entire 92-acre remainder by more than a third, lowering the per-acre value from $65,000 to $40,000. The $2.5 million settlement, agreed to on Dec. 12, was nearly double the sum of the offers the DOT had made for the two properties, which totaled $1,273,600.
Bob Beason of Beason & Ellis in Durham mediated the settlement. James Concepcion of the N.C. Dept. of Justice in Raleigh represented the DOT.
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SETTLEMENT REPORT – EMINENT DOMAIN
Injuries alleged: Condemnation of approximately 23 acres from a 121-acre tract
Case name: Department of Transportation Turnpike Authority v. LR&FR, LLC
Court: Union County Superior Court
Case number: 15 CVS 2649
Mediator: Bob Beason of Beason & Ellis in Durham
Date of settlement: Dec. 12, 2017
Most helpful experts: Dennis Gruelle of Raleigh (appraiser) and Norman Walters of Charlotte (real estate broker)
Attorneys for defendant: George Autry and Stephanie Hutchins Autry of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog in Raleigh
Attorney for plaintiff: James Concepcion of the N.C. Dept. of Justice in Raleigh