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Condemnation/Eminent Domain

Acquiring private land for a public purpose is accomplished by governments through the law of eminent domain, which is commonly referred to as condemnation.  The attorneys in Poyner Spruill’s Condemnation (Eminent Domain) Practice Area represent both local governments and landowners in these cases.  With the firm’s Condemnation attorneys often working jointly with those in its Government Practice Area, Poyner Spruill has assisted local governments in acquiring property to construct airports, fire stations, jails, new roads, landfills and protect beaches/shorelines. Our broad eminent domain experience is also evidenced by representing individuals and businesses whose land has been condemned.  The firm’s clients have had their land taken for new schools, the expansion of a military base, and for new roads built by North Carolina’s DOT.

Whether you are a local government needing legal assistance to condemn land for a public project or a landowner whose property is part of that public project, you will benefit from having a law firm that can provide guidance with site selection issues, help with appraisals and negotiations, lead you over the statutory hurdles in these cases and present your case to a jury.  Poyner Spruill’s attorneys work with land planners, developers, appraisers and other experts to support their presentation of your case, but their focus is always on the client’s needs, best interests and obtaining the best result for the client.  And, with offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, Rocky Mount and Southern Pines, our lawyers are accessible and familiar with locales no matter where the property is located. 

Local Governments

  • We represented a local airport authority acquiring farm land for an airport.  At trial, the jury’s verdict was actually below the amount the authority deposited and approximately 1/20th of the amount the landowner asked of the jury.
  • Our client was a county needing to expand its landfill.  Landowner contested that this was for a “public purpose.”  Trial court ruled in favor of county and this ruling was affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  131 N.C. App. 765, *; 509 S.E.2d 213, **; 1998 N.C. App. LEXIS 1555, ***
  • The firm represented an airport authority that condemned 1.35 acres.  Client deposited $16,000 when case was initially filed.  Jury verdict was $25,000, which was only 16% of amount sought by landowner.

Landowners

  • In two separate cases, NCDOT filed condemnation actions for highways in Cabarrus and Wake Counties across and owned by our clients.  We successfully negotiated settlements in each case that yielded more than $1.0 million over NCDOT's initial deposit. Additionally, our clients received several non-monetary concessions relating to the future use of the property, such as guaranteed curb and median cuts for property access and construction of alternative vehicular access to replace access being lost along the property's frontage.
  • We represented a large national quarry company and obtained a $2.3 million dollar jury verdict (in excess of $3 million with interest) when NCDOT condemned 25 acres of our client’s quarry.  This “taking” substantially shortened the economic life of the quarry.  NCDOT’s initial deposit was only $180,000.
  • Our client was a church that was being condemned by a local school board. After raising federal religious land use regulations as a defense to action, we negotiated a settlement that was 73% above the school board's $720,000 deposit. In fact, the settlement was even more than the appraised value opinion offered by our client's expert witness.
  • Standing up to the federal government can be tough, but that's what we did for our client in a condemnation suit brought by the US Navy. It took his 685 acre parcel and deposited $3,365,000 as compensation. After establishing how the land could be improved as a subdivision by using land planners, developers, wetlands engineers and experts from other disciplines, we negotiated a settlement of $5,800,000, which was $2,235,000 above the amount deposited.
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