Condemnation Law


Our eminent domain attorneys have traditionally handled clients’ zoning and condemnation matters. We’re also taking the N.C.D.O.T. to the N.C. Supreme Court on a landmark inverse condemnation case.

  • Zoning is the government’s restriction on how a property can be used so that the property’s use is not harmful or disruptive to the community. 
  • Condemnation is the government’s permanent or temporary taking of an owner’s property interest for a public good. A condemnation is a force sale where the government is making you sale the property to it. Unlike a negotiated free market sale, owners cannot walk away from this deal and only get one chance to get fairly paid. It is critical for owners to be alert, astute and advised. Condemnation is also known as Eminent Domain as well as just compensation for a taking.

Eminent Domain Purpose: As North Carolina grows there will be more roads, more schools and more power lines needed to accommodate our travelers and families. Our government can take property for public use, ostensibly for the common good, and is required to pay just compensation for that taking. Road projects, school construction, public building construction, utility projects and recreational trails are the most common reasons for property being subject to condemnation. The typical condemning authorities in North Carolina are the North Carolina Department of Transportation, cities, counties, Duke Power, and school systems.

Condemnation Process: A condemning authority is required to first negotiate in good faith with a property owner to arrive at a satisfactory price for the property interest taken. If good faith negotiations are unsuccessful, the condemning authority in North Carolina will file a legal action condemning the property interest taken and deposit a sum with the clerk of court which it considers to be just compensation.

There are usually several components of just compensation valuation:

  • the price of the interest take,
  • the damage in value to any remaining interest in the property,
  • any costs of relocating the property owner or tenant,
  • the cost of any temporary interference with use of the property, and
  • cost to cure any negative conditions such as access that the project might create.

Owners and operators of commercial real estate generally want to be located at intersections and on streets where there is a high traffic count. Homeowners often live on state roads that have seen traffic double or triple in the last decade. This dependable source of customer traffic adds value to the property but at the same time makes the property a potential location for road widen, new interchanges, new traffic patterns or re-routing projects. The disagreement on valuation between owners and the condemning authority is frequently over the property’s highest and best use. Often times a project takes parking, or causes access problems or leaves a section of the property with a lesser use or undevelopable. It is typically on these types of issues that owners need experienced counsel to protect their interests.

Inverse Condemnation Attorneys: Our attorneys have taken on the North Carolina Department of Transportation and won a landmark inverse condemnation case in the North Carolina Court of Appeals on behalf of hundreds of property owners across the state. This case is called Kirby v. NCDOT. It’s currently been appealed by the DOT to the N.C. Supreme Court after our property owners won in the N.C. Court of Appeals. We have special 2.1 appointed judges to hear our Map Act inverse condemnation cases so that our clients will receive consistent rulings.

For recent articles regarding cases, click on article title to view the story :