Skip to comments.Easement Acquisition Stirs Anger
Posted on 04/04/2005 7:49:52 AM PDT by hdrabon
Easement acquisition stirs anger By RITCHIE E. STARNES - WEDDINGTON
Several property owners in Weddington are still fuming about how Union County officials seemingly fast-tracked the condemnation of their land to help build a sewer-trunk line for developers in 2002.
Exercising eminent domain typically strikes an emotional chord among most property owners, but mix in what the residents see as poor communication, insulting compensation and allegations of conspiracy theories, and the result is raw feelings. That's the situation for the majority of 40 land owners who had swaths of their land condemned to make way for the West Fork Twelve Mile Creek/Davis Mine Creek sewer project. . . .County Manager Mike Shalati and representatives with the Institute of Government said municipalities partnering with private developers is legal and routinely practiced across the state and the nation.
Where the situation is unique here, however, is that the primary developer, John Wieland Homes, is led by Vice President John Feezor, former chairman of the Union County Board of Commissioners. Although Feezor was absent during the Nov. 18, 2002, commissioners' meeting -- the last during his term as a commissioner -- when the board unanimously approved the condemnations, he was a direct benefactor.
Commissioner Stony Rushing, who was not on the board at the time, has also raised questions about the timing of Shalati buying and financing a home from Wieland Homes. Rushing accuses Shalati of getting a sweetheart deal on his house only months prior to the November agenda with the condemnations. Records show Shalati paid $395,000 for the home that listed for $439,900.
Shalati has denied any return favor, explaining that any appreciation of his new home was the result of a room addition and a subsequent revaluation. He said he did not set the agenda for the condemnations. Rushing argues, however, that Shalati failed to inform the board that Feezor was the developer involved and that a conflict of interest might exist. . . ."I did not receive anything in the mail or a call," Susie C. Pearl said.
She said her young son, walking their dog on their property, first discovered the survey stakes.
"That's trespassing," Pearl said. "They did not ask permission to survey our property. I was livid and I wanted to fight, but didn't know how. There was nothing we could do."
Others have fought for just compensation with several suits pending. Some have fought and while they received higher compensation, they say any victory is hollow.
For forfeiture of an easement through his front yard that razed about 300 trees and interfered with other utilities, Thomas Alley received more than $40,000 after an iniital offer of $827.
"I spent more than half of what I got in legal fees," Alley said. "And since they sued me for our land, I'm the defendant and not entitled to legal fees. . . ."
-- Ritchie Starnes can be reached at (704) 261-2226 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The local D.A. and NC SBI pursued 7 felonies against the Register of Deeds during the span of this same time-frame. These felonies were dismissed by the D.A. about 2 weeks before trial, and a plea bargain was arranged in order to protect a number of county leaders who would have been implicated in court. The facts surrounding this dismissal and the implications were not made public by the local paper(s).
2. Shortly thereafter the D.A. retired while under investigation by the NC Bar (the investigation NOT made public by the local papers). The D.A., the Union Co. Bar Gang, and Attorney General Roy Cooper CORONATED the DA's well-groomed second without the cizenry's involvement in any way.
In a newspaper interview, the new DA stated that he hoped the CORONATION would give him a "leg-up" (on the 2006 elections). The leg-up, presumably, is to enable the new DA to more easily urinate all over the people of this county (the third fastest growing in the nation, per the LA Times) just like his predecessor and many other county leaders!
3. Union County, NC Commissioner Stoney Rushing is a patriot who deserves an incredible amount of support.
HERE it IS breaking news every minute.
ANYTHING to get a legitimate outside look into our mess!
Not really enough to qualify as a "sweeheart deal", but it sure looks like a conflict of interest. No public hearing?
It seems Commissioner Rushing is the only pol in your neck of the woods that understands that he works FOR the voters - not the other way around.
Yeah, after taking off 5-7% off for commission and another 3-5% for negotiation, he may be lucky to break even.
I think I DID make a mistake in not posting the WHOLE article, which is even more interesting and points to the issue of eminent domain for EVERY citizen.
It is breaking news to me.
Didn't these folks vote themselves free health insurance for life a few months ago?
ALMOST the same group!
Thank you! More of interest from the Union Co. Board of Commissioners' meeting last night can be found in two articles at http://www.enquirerjournal.com/.
It is ALL more complicated than you can imagine here.
Consider yourself added. This can be a very high volume list so if you ever change your mind just let me know.