Former NCDOT Attorney Hosts Seminar for Property Owners Impacted by U.S. 321 Widening

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The NC Eminent Domain Law Firm will host a no-cost educational seminar for the more than 100 property owners in the path of the U.S. 321 widening in Hickory, Thursday, January 19th at the Crowne Plaza in Hickory. Attorney Stan Abrams, who previously represented the NCDOT in right of way negotiations, will share about property owners’ rights, what property owners should expect, and how to try to protect against government overreach through certain negotiation strategies.

More than 100 Catawba County property owners in Hickory will be affected by the NCDOT’s widening of U.S. 321 to a superstreet design. In response, the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm will offer property owners guidance at a no-cost seminar on Thursday, January 19th at the Crowne Plaza in Hickory. Stan Abrams, a former NCDOT attorney, will host the seminar and share what he and his colleague, Jason Campbell, also a former NCDOT attorney, discovered about negotiation strategies when they worked for the NCDOT.

This land taking seminar is free and open to the public.

Seminar attendees will learn how the NCDOT typically negotiates, common mistakes property owners make, and strategies that commonly help property owners negotiate better deals. These negotiation strategies are designed to help property owners try to maximize the NCDOT’s offer for their property and try to ensure they are treated fairly during the negotiation process.

“During negotiations, the NCDOT has sometimes tried to downplay the harm they cause the property owners,” Campbell said. “While they aren’t intentionally trying to steal your land, like any buyer, they want to get it as cheaply as possible. The appraisers and negotiators that property owners will be dealing with are hired by the NCDOT. They have typically done this hundreds of times. They know the process, and the right of way agents are experienced at these negotiations. The property owners are likely doing this for the first time. They don’t know the process and don’t know how these claims can be negotiated.”

Former NCDOT Attorneys Share Negotiation Strategies
“In the coming weeks and months, property and business owners will receive official looking offers from the government. Many may think these offers are non-negotiable,” Abrams said. “But they are, just like any other offer from a buyer. What we’ve learned from having been on the other side of the negotiating table, is that the NCDOT will sometimes stop negotiating even when it is obvious the property is worth more. Just because they stop, doesn’t mean property owners must.”

Campbell emphasized that NCDOT’s negotiators are highly experienced because they do this hundreds of times a year. “The NCDOT’s negotiators are trained and backed by experienced state attorneys. What I’ve seen happen is the property owner, not knowing eminent domain law, may base their claim for more compensation on things the NCDOT does not legally have to pay for. Worse, they may take the NCDOT’s word on what they do have to pay for. It is similar to an inexperienced person negotiating for their first home. Who do you think is more likely to get the better deal?”

U.S. 321 Widening Seminar Focus
“The NCDOT is evaluating property values along this 4-mile stretch of U.S. 321 from U.S. 70 to U.S. 321 Alternate right now,” Abrams said. “We want property and business owners to know enough about the eminent domain negotiation process and their rights to be able to ask the relevant questions that help them understand exactly what the NCDOT is actually taking and strategize accordingly. It’s not always obvious, and sometimes this information may be buried in the fine print of a 50- to 100-page appraisal.”

According to the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm, one strategy is through the condemnation deposit. A condemnation deposit is a check made out to the property owner that, by law, the NCDOT must deposit with the courts on the property owner’s behalf when they take their land. Many property owners simply accept this deposit check, not realizing there may be good reason they shouldn’t.

A 2015 study by the North Carolina legislature showed that property owners who did not accept the NCDOT’s condemnation deposit ended up getting 85% more for their property, on average.*

Mr. Abrams will try to cover strategies, such as this and address other questions property owners typically have, such as:

Catawba County Property Owners in the Way of U.S. 321 Widening
More than 100 homes and businesses along U.S. 321 from U.S. 70 to U.S. 321 Alternate are in jeopardy of property condemnation for the new superstreet road widening. NCDOT documents show more than $45 million has been earmarked for these properties.

Land Taking Seminar Date, Time, Location
Date:     Thursday, January 19th
Time:     7 p.m.
Place:     Crowne Plaza Hickory
1385 Lenoir Rhyne Blvd. SE,
Hickory, NC 28602

For more information about the meeting, please call the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm at 1-877-393-4990.

  • Source: NC Legislature (2015), House Bill 127: DOT Condemnation Changes – Fiscal Analysis Memorandum (Section 2). Fiscal Research Division.

A division of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm is dedicated solely to representing property owners throughout North Carolina, who may be impacted by eminent domain law. The NC Eminent Domain Law Firm is led by attorneys Stan Abrams and Jason Campbell, both of whom previously worked as Assistant Attorneys General for the North Carolina Department of Justice in the Transportation Section, where they litigated condemnation cases for the NCDOT. They have over 25 years of combined experience working exclusively on eminent domain cases. The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has the legal resources of 38 attorneys and is based in Durham, North Carolina, with 14 offices throughout the state to serve its clients.

Contact Information:
Stan Abrams
201 McCullough Drive
Suite 220
Charlotte, NC 28262

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