Though construction is only just underway on the Winston Salem Northern Beltway, it’s already been the subject of more than one lawsuit. People owning property along the projected beltway first filed a lawsuit in an attempt to halt the project back in 1999. Those initial efforts failed, and the landowners sued again in 2008. The courts rejected both lawsuits in 2010.
The state is determined to proceed with the multi-million dollar project, which is slated to be constructed in two sections. The eastern section will stretch for approximately 16 miles, connecting U.S. 52 and I-74. Eventually, this part of the beltway will form a portion of I-74, which currently has at least three segments running through North Carolina. The second section is projected to run for 15 miles between U.S. 52 and U.S. 158. When completed, the beltway is expected to help relieve congestion on several area highways including U.S. 52 and Business 40. State government projections indicate that the new beltway will increase highway safety, and Governor Pat McCrory calls the Northern Beltway a priority for the state.
The project has also been the subject of more recent legal controversy with a February 2015 ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. A three judge panel decided that the NCDOT is legally required to compensate a group of 11 landowners whose property is affected by the beltway project. The government designated their land as being in the way of the proposed project, effectively condemning it, years ago yet they have failed to provide any kind of compensation. The NCDOT delayed the eminent domain action because that particular section of the beltway would not be built for several years, but it seems that the court system is now forcing them to complete the condemnation process by ensuring that they compensate the property owners.
Ultimately, construction of the Northern Beltway may prove to be a positive thing for people living and working in Winston-Salem. It may mean fewer car accidents and fewer traffic headaches. However, this massive road construction project signals ongoing problems for property owners. Most people who are likely to be affected by the project have already received notification from the NCDOT. The government is trying to move quickly, and this can mean that they’ll use high pressure tactics to get home and business owners to agree to their terms.
What landowners must realize is that they have many rights within the eminent domain process. They are legally entitled to just compensation, and the initial offer made by the NCDOT often does not reflect this principal. It’s virtually impossible for people to determine the true value of their property without the assistance of eminent domain attorneys like the practitioners at Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog.
Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog has built a solid reputation by providing clients with excellent service in North Carolina condemnation actions. Home and business owners who have received communications from the NCDOT or another government entity are entitled to legal counsel so they can make an informed decision. Knowing that the government intends to take personal property for public use is troubling, but that’s why it’s vital to obtain trusted legal advice. It may not be possible to stop the eminent domain action, but it is possible to hold the government accountable to their legal responsibility to provide property owners with just compensation.