The North Carolina Department of Transportation will pay $2.5 million—almost three times what it initially deposited—for taking almost an acre and a half of right-of-way, plus other takings, from a four-acre tract in Union County as part of its construction of the Monroe Bypass, the landowner’s attorneys report.
Brady Wells, Jeremy Hopkins, George Autry and Stephanie Autry of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog in Raleigh report that their client, Verena Keller, owned just over four acres in Stallings that was developed with an RV dealership.
Before the taking, the property had full access to Highway 74, and Keller contended that its prime location made it perfectly suited for retail development. But the DOT’s taking severed the property in two, took away its highway access, and left it situated well below the highway, which now sends traffic over and past the property.
Keller and the DOT disagreed greatly over both how much the property had been worth before the taking, and how much it was worth afterwards. The DOT also contended that the property could still be used for commercial purposes, while Keller argued that the changes eliminated any commercial potential of the property.
On June 21, shortly after a mediated settlement conference, the parties settled the case for $2,500,000, which was close to Keller’s estimate of just compensation, and well above the $881,950 that the DOT had deposited. Two remnants were deeded to DOT as part of the settlement.
Erwin Spainhour of Concord mediated the settlement.
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SETTLEMENT REPORT – EMINENT DOMAIN
Amount: $2.5 million
Injuries alleged: Taking of approximately 1.44 acres of right-of-way
Case name: N.C. Department of Transportation, Turnpike Authority v. Verena E. Keller and Carolina Premier Bank
Court: Union County Superior Court
Case No.: 16 CVS 1158
Mediator: Erwin Spainhour of Concord
Settlement date: June 21
Most helpful experts: Dennis Gruelle of Virginia Beach, Virginia (appraiser)
Attorneys for defendants: Brady Wells, Jeremy Hopkins, George Autry and Stephanie Autry of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog in Raleigh
Attorney for plaintiff: Martin McCracken of the N.C. Dept. of Justice in Raleigh