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Originally published: 2014-02-10 10:17:26
Last modified: 2014-02-10 10:17:26

Seminar offered on property owners' rights

The N.C. Department of Transportation's  $154 million project to widen U.S. 221 between Deep Gap and Jefferson will result in the displacement of approximately 70 homes, 33 businesses and two religious facilities, according to the NCDOT's environmental assessment.

At least 150 property owners will be affected by this massive project, according to Jason Campbell, an attorney with the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm and former NCDOT attorney.

"Projects like this create a tough situation for many property owners. Owners will soon receive offers from the NCDOT and many may think these offers are unfair. And they may be right," Campbell said.

According to Campbell, rather than accepting the initial offers, owners may want to exercise often-misunderstood rights, including the ability to negotiate for a "second check." 

He and his colleague, Stan Abrams, another former NCDOT attorney, will explain the options at their seminar on the U.S. 221 project on Feb. 20 in West Jefferson.

"If an offer has been made, there may be a more complete and satisfactory offer to be gained through reappraisal and negotiations," Campbell said. "We try to get property owners what we refer to as a 'second check,' in addition to the offer they received on their own."

'Second check' option

The NC Eminent Domain Law Firm's "second check" approach comes in after officials make their initial offer. If a property owner chooses not to accept the DOT's offer and takes no further steps, the state will still acquire their land and deposit the amount of the original offer with the county clerk for the owner, if the condemnation is filed under North Carolina General Statute 136, and most are, according to Campbell.

Then the property owner is free to pursue additional compensation. If continued negotiations do not change the offer, the owner typically still has the first offer. But if continued negotiations are successful, the property owner will receive a "second" check in addition to the first offer, he said. 

"We hate to see property owners settle for an offer that may be less than the fair value for their property, simply because they were not aware of all of their rights,"  Abrams said.

At their pro bono seminar at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Hotel of West Jefferson, 203 Hampton Place Court, West Jefferson, the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm will cover this approach and other key questions, such as:

 How will the value of my property be calculated?

Can I assume the offer for my property is fair?

How is fair market value determined?

What if I lease space? Will there be allowances to move my business?

 Should I get my own appraisal?

For more information about the meeting,  call the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm at (877) 393-4990.