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Court ruling could delay beltway
The Winston-Salem Journal ^ | February 16, 2017 | Wesley Young

Posted on 03/07/2017 8:09:52 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks

A judge’s order could delay the start of construction on the next segment of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway unless contested condemnation claims are resolved by this coming fall.

Attorney Matthew Bryant said Forsyth County Superior Court Judge John Craig would be signing orders this week dismissing some new condemnation proceedings started recently by the N.C. Department of Transportation against some landowners in the beltway segment planned between Reidsville and New Walkertown roads.

Those new condemnation proceedings were started as part of the state’s effort to acquire land for that beltway segment, which is scheduled to go to contract this fall.

Bryant said the judge is tossing out the new condemnations because they apply to some of the same lands that are affected by earlier court rulings — rulings that found that the state had effectively condemned the properties by placing them in the path of the beltway.

The DOT “cannot condemn property in that section because the property has already been condemned,” Bryant said, adding that any delay on the beltway is the DOT’s fault because it filed the appeal that has the claims on hold.

Pat Ivey, the division engineer for the DOT division that includes Forsyth County, said Tuesday that unless the state owns all the land in the next beltway segment, the project is on hold.

“We would have to have every bit of it (the land) before we can go,” Ivey said. “If we don’t have the right of way certified — and it would need to be certified at least a month ahead of time — the project would have to be delayed.”

The N.C. Attorney General’s office said that its next steps would be reviewed after the judge signs the order.

Some background:

Inverse condemnation refers to the taking of property by the government without compensation.

Last June, the N.C. Supreme Court ruled in favor of landowners represented by Bryant, and said that by designating properties as being in the path of the beltway in 1997 and in 2008, the state had taken landowner property rights without paying for them. Bryant, a Winston-Salem attorney, represents more than 200 beltway property owners on inverse condemnation claims against the state.

The Supreme Court sent the cases back to Judge Craig in Forsyth County, who made a ruling on Oct. 3, 2016 that would set in motion payments to landowners by the DOT. The DOT objected to the procedures and appealed Craig’s ruling to the court of appeals.

In the meantime, state officials have been acquiring land in the beltway segment between Reidsville and New Walkertown roads, but couldn’t reach agreement with Bryant’s clients on property prices.

“We turned them all down because (state officials) don’t value the inverse condemnation claims,” Bryant said. “We believe that for every $100,000 (of land) the owners are owed $70,000 to $80,000 in interest and taxes.”

Of top of that, Bryant said, the state owes attorney fees that Bryant would not disclose.

Bryant said that because the property owners rejected the state offers, the state DOT then filed direct condemnation claims against three landowners — the claims that Judge Craig has now said he would dismiss, according to Bryant. Bryant said other landowners besides the three will also be affected assuming the state follows through on filing condemnation proceedings against people who don’t sell.

In asking the court to dismiss the new condemnation proceedings, Bryant didn’t get all he asked for: In addition to dismissal of the new claim, Bryant asked the court to order the state to transfer land deposit payments from the new proceedings to the old, and award the landowners attorney’s fees.

Instead, Bryant said, no money will change hands at this point: the deposits will be returned to the DOT, and the lands will be held by the landowners until the appeal of the inverse condemnation plan is heard.

When finished, the Northern Beltway will be a 34-mile interstate-type highway that loops around the northern side of Winston-Salem from U.S. 158 in the west near Clemmons, to Interstate 74/U.S. 311 on the southeast side of Winston-Salem.

The only section of the road currently under construction will connect Business 40 and Reidsville Road when it is completed in November of 2018.

The next segment, from Reidsville Road to New Walkertown Road, is planned for construction starting in 2017.

When finished, the eastern leg of the beltway will be designated I-74, an interstate that will link the Midwest states to the Wilmington area when complete.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; US: North Carolina
KEYWORDS: 5thamendment; beltway; compensation; condemnations; construction; i74; infrastructure; landowners; lawsuits; northcarolina; ruling; takings; takingsclause; transportation; winstonsalem
Interesting article about takings.
1 posted on 03/07/2017 8:09:52 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

I-279 north from Pittsburgh.

Tied up in court 25+ years over such cases.

2 posted on 03/07/2017 8:12:15 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Ah, the mythical I-74. It is has been on the drawing boards since the mid 80’s. The red neck highway to the Carolina beaches. As to takings, screw the government.

3 posted on 03/07/2017 9:30:21 AM PST by buckalfa (I am deplorable.)
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