North Carolina Eminent Domain Attorneys

It is our pledge that we will provide a free case review for any individual or business facing eminent domain or condemnation.

Eminent Domain Attorneys In North Carolina

Eminent domain is a term that refers to the power of a condemnor—whether federal, state, local government, or other authorized private entities—to acquire private property for a public use. Entities commonly use this power for public facilities, utilities, and/or road right of way.

Unfortunately for private landowners, public use is broadly defined, and some affected landowners can find that their property is being condemned for dubious purposes. Even when reasons are justified, some property owners feel inadequately compensated for the inconveniences and far-reaching impacts of an acquisition. Landowners should work with an experienced eminent domain attorney in North Carolina to fight for their rights.

At Sever Storey Walker, the mission of our eminent domain lawyers in North Carolina is to help property owners who are facing eminent domain and condemnation. We aim to hold condemners accountable for the land they wish to acquire, whether they are local, state, federal, or other entities. We‘ve represented hundreds of landowners and have handled eminent domain cases ranging from small pipeline acquisitions to large highway projects.

When you work with our North Carolina eminent domain attorneys, you can be sure that you’re dealing with qualified attorneys who can represent you and help you get just compensation.

What Are Your Rights Regarding Eminent Domain In North Carolina?

Landowners subject to eminent domain often fear they have no rights. The government or utility company may have the authority to take your property to complete a project, but regardless of the project size, you have rights as a property owner. Consulting an eminent domain attorney in North Carolina can help you fight for these rights.

Public Use

If challenged, a condemning authority must prove that its use of eminent domain is necessary for public use. On some rare occasions, a landowner may be able to successfully stop a taking by demonstrating a taking does not meet the definition of “public use.”

A North Carolina eminent domain attorney can challenge this by showing that the project does not qualify for “public use.” An attorney can point out that the property or part of the property in question is unnecessary for the project, or the project, itself, is not for the public’s consumption. This argument, however, is difficult and requires a fact-intensive analysis of a landowner’s situation. A qualified eminent domain attorney should be able to evaluate the likely success of these types of arguments.

Just Compensation

For eminent domain acquisitions, the government must provide just compensation to affected property owners. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-63 states that the compensation should be based on the property’s fair market value before filing the eminent domain and land condemnation petition.

However, more often than not, the amount that condemning authorities offer is not equal to what you deserve for your property. In addition, it may not factor important variables, including proper land valuation, impacts on the property’s value, and possible relocation costs..

Having an experienced eminent domain attorney in North Carolina during the condemnation/eminent domain process in North Carolina can help assure that you get the fair compensation you deserve for your property.

What’s Involved in the Condemnation Process?

When a property faces acquisition by condemnation in North Carolina, the process kicks off with a county board action. The government entity seeking the land then selects an appraiser to conduct a formal appraisal.

Once done, they issue a condemnation petition and notice to the property owner, setting the stage for a crucial condemnation hearing. Decisions about property values and justifications shape the subsequent payments to the property owner.

If the property owner doesn’t agree with the decision, they have the right to appeal. At this point, an eminent domain attorney can step in to guide owners through appeals.

Sometimes, the law allows the government to continue taking the land. Other times, it leads to inverse condemnation, which questions whether the eminent domain was applied unfairly, especially if owners aren’t given just compensation.

Given these intricate steps, you’ll want an eminent domain attorney in North Carolina by your side. With their expertise, navigating the process is more manageable.

Should You Fight Your North Carolina Eminent Domain Case?

Although it may be overwhelming to figure out your next steps after receiving an eminent domain notice, you must remember your rights as a property owner and remind yourself that you can fight for them.
Condemnation brokers sometimes scare property owners unfamiliar with the process into accepting low-ball offers. If you don’t have a lawyer representing you, you risk losing out on fair compensation for your property.

Common Examples of Eminent Domain Takings in North Carolina

Eminent domain can be applied in various ways. If you’re facing this problem, consulting an eminent domain attorney in North Carolina is crucial. Here’s a look at the most common types of cases in the state.


Easements are often a contentious topic in North Carolina. These are typically non-possessory rights granted to entities, like utility companies, to use a section of a property owner’s land for a specific purpose.

For instance, a utility company may gain the right to erect utility poles, install power lines, or even create access roads on your land. Instead of buying the whole property, they get an “easement,” which lets them use just a part of it.

Often, property owners feel they are not fairly compensated for easements, and many turn to eminent domain attorneys in North Carolina for advice.

Road Construction

As North Carolina’s population grows, so does the need for new roads or the expansion of existing ones. Road construction is one of the prime reasons private property is taken under eminent domain. When the government deems a piece of land crucial for public transportation or to alleviate traffic, they can move to acquire it. However, this doesn’t mean property owners should simply comply.

Ensuring they receive just compensation for their land, especially if it has sentimental or historical significance, is where an eminent domain attorney in North Carolina can be invaluable.

Public Buildings & Parks

Ever wondered where all the space for new schools, libraries, or parks comes from? Sometimes, it’s from acquired private lands. While a new park can benefit a community, it should not come at the expense of a property owner’s rights.

If you feel you’re being shortchanged in the process, it might be time to speak to an eminent domain attorney.

Water Reservoirs

Just as with roadways, increasing population demands can require the government to construct or expand reservoirs. If your land is near water bodies, you might be in the crosshairs. Even though community needs are essential, so is ensuring you’re adequately compensated.

While these are the most common cases, eminent domain situations can vary significantly. If you believe your property rights are being infringed upon or you’re not getting adequate compensation, consider consulting an eminent domain attorney in North Carolina for professional guidance.

Case Results

State: North Carolina, Watauga County

Case Type: Road projects

Initial Offer: $440,900

Sever Storey Walker Result:


State: North Carolina, Stanly County

Case Type: Pipeline takings

Initial Offer: $5,215

Sever Storey Walker Result:


State: North Carolina, Guilford County

Case Type: Road projects

Initial Offer: $214,600

Sever Storey Walker Result:


State: North Carolina, Forsyth County

Case Type: Pipeline takings

Initial Offer: $19,000

Sever Storey Walker Result:


State: North Carolina, Forsyth County

Case Type: Road projects

Initial Offer: $37,475

Sever Storey Walker Result:


State: North Carolina, Cleveland County

Case Type: Road projects

Initial Offer: $44,800

Sever Storey Walker Result:


Frequently Asked Questions

North Carolina law requires that a condemnor seeking to acquire property under threat of eminent domain first issue an offer of compensation to the landowner whose property is being acquired. Often, this offer is supported or buttressed by an appraisal. North Carolina law also mandates that the acquiring agency engage in good faith negotiations with landowners prior to initiating eminent domain.

While in theory these requirements help protect the landowner from getting low-balled, in practice, these guide rails still do not guarantee that an unrepresented landowner will get what he or she is entitled to. For example, an appraisal is simply a third-party’s opinion of the value of your property. Appraisers hired by condemnors often fail to fully consider aspects of a property in order to produce a lower number for the condemnor. Additionally, engaging in “good faith negotiations” does not require that a condemnor accept (or even consider) a landowner’s position of value. An appraisal can be created, and good faith negotiations can be conducted, and a landowner can still lose its valuation battle with a condemnor.

As soon as you learn that your property will be acquired. When it comes to eminent domain, you can never enlist attorney assistance too early. In fact: the earlier, the better. The last thing you want as a landowner is to wait until the last minute and be ill-prepared for a condemnation lawsuit. This is where landowners often get burned.

You should not negotiate yourself because you are not equipped to know what your land is worth or what you should be getting. Illinois eminent domain law is a tricky animal. It allows for several landowner-friendly arguments and crevices within the law that, if properly pursued, can result in much more compensation than what is offered. A landowner cannot possibly be expected to have the knowledge or expertise to explore these arguments. An experienced North Carolina eminent domain attorney can deftly maneuver the eminent domain laws to an outcome much higher than expected for a landowner.

The attorneys at Sever Storey work on a contingency fee basis—meaning our attorneys only get paid if they secure more compensation than what is offered by the condemnor. Unlike other attorney-client relationships, the contingency fee agreement incentivizes our attorneys to seek as much money as possible.

If you are unsure if you have a case for more compensation, the Sever Storey attorneys will review your case FOR FREE. Just give Jordan Walker a call at 888-318-3761 or shoot him an e-mail at, send him your appraisal, and we will review it FOR FREE. No strings, no invoices, no bills, just an honest assessment of your case for compensation.

When land is taken or damaged and the landowner has not been served a complaint or declaration, it is known as “inverse condemnation.” To file for compensation for inverse condemnation by the NCDOT or NCDOA or a local public or private condemnor, the landowner must generally file an inverse condemnation complaint[4] within 24 months of the date the affected property was taken or the completion of the project involving the taking, whichever is later, although there are exceptions to this rule.

In situations where a condemnor forces a business, organization, or landowner to relocate from a property, the entity being moved is not only entitled to compensation for its property interest, it is also entitled to compensation to assist it in relocating to a new location.

The amount, and type, of relocation an entity may receive for relocation is dependent on what is being relocated. For example, a family being moved out of their house is entitled to traditional moving expenses and a differential payment between the value of its old property and the value of a new property (if there is one). A business, however, is entitled to an entirely different set of expenses–including re-establishment costs. Much like in their compensation offers for the property itself, condemnors consistently undervalue the cost involved in relocating businesses. A qualified eminent domain attorney should be able to properly evaluate your relocation compensation in addition to your just compensation.

A condemnor’s power of eminent domain is not unlimited. Prior to, and during, condemnation proceedings, a putative “taker” must follow certain laws and procedures in order to perfect its authority. For example, a North Carolina condemnor must: 1) Provide adequate notice of the acquisition. 2) Engage in good faith negotiations with the landowner in North Carolina. 3) Put the acquisition to a bona fide “public use”.

If a North Carolina condemnor does not follow these requirements, a landowner may be able to raise a successful challenge against the condemnor and stop the acquisition in its tracks. These types of challenges are fact-specific, and a qualified eminent domain attorney should be able to analyze your set of facts and see if a challenge is possible.

Eminent domain cases depend almost entirely on the speed by which the condemnor chooses to operate. Cases that can be resolved pre-suit usually resolve themselves within a couple months. Cases that require litigation usually last between 12-18 months. Where and when your case resolves traditionally depends on the complexity of the case and how poor the condemnor’s offer is. A good rule of thumb is that the bigger the difference in opinion between the parties, the longer the case takes.

In some rare cases, eminent domain can be stopped. As identified above, there may be certain circumstances where a condemnor does not follow the law, and in these instances, a landowner may be able to challenge or stop an acquisition. An attorney familiar with these instances will be able to advise a landowner on whether a landowner’s circumstances warrant a challenge.

More commonly, however, an eminent domain attorney helps to increase compensation and other benefits associated with the taking of land by the government.

North Carolina has a long-recognized requirement that an eminent domain action be for the public use and the public benefit. Recent legislative activity reflects that lawmakers have a desire to narrow the requirement through a state constitutional amendment.


The proposed amendment would add a Section 19.1 to Article I [2] of the North Carolina Constitution. The following text would be added by the proposed measure’s approval:

“Sec. 19.1. Eminent domain. Private property shall not be taken by eminent domain except for a public use. Just compensation shall be paid and shall be determined by a jury at the request of any party.”

The amendment had overwhelming support in the N.C. House, where it passed by a vote of 113-5. Although the bill could theoretically appear on the May 3, 2016 ballot in North Carolina, the fact that the General Assembly will not reconvene for it next legislative session until April 2016 makes this unlikely. Nevertheless, landowners and legislators can continue to advocate and support this constitutional change.

Public Use And Public Benefit

The current two-part test will remain the legal standard until there is such a legislative change. The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently illustrated the current public use and benefit analysis in the case of “Town of Matthews v. Wright” [3], Case No. COA14-943. The opinion of the court provides that a taking of land by a local government must be for both a public use and a public benefit. In that instance, the Town could not show a public benefit, and thus it improperly exercised its eminent domain powers.  The case involved multiple legal appeals and a long saga where a municipality pursued its condemnation case based in part upon personal conflicts between the Town and the landowners. learn more]

It is unclear how this case would be read in conjunction with House Bill 3, which specifically requires only “public use”, but the House Bill supporters have generally wanted to make it harder to condemn private property for a project that is not purely public. In order to allow this measure on the North Carolina ballot, it will need to make it out of the state Senate by a 60% vote. Property owners can contact their state representatives to advocate for important eminent domain reforms that will further prevent abuse of this state power and protect the rights of landowners.

Contact an experienced North Carolina eminent domain lawyer for assistance

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Contact Us To Get The Best Eminent Domain Attorney Available

With over fifty years of combined legal experience, you can rely on Sever Storey Walker when dealing with eminent domain. You’ll be dealing with eminent domain specialists when you choose us because our entire firm focuses on this area of law.

If you have any questions for our North Carolina eminent domain lawyers or would like a free consultation, contact us online or at 888-318-3761 to reach our legal team.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina Office

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Before going alone against the State let us give you our opinion. It is our pledge that we will provide a free case review for any individual or business facing eminent domain or condemnation. Contact us now at 888-318-3761

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