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540 extension puts plans in limbo for cancer-stricken Garner couple

Posted October 23, 2013
Updated October 24, 2013

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— Plans to extend the N.C. Highway 540 outer loop around Raleigh are still years from becoming a reality, but the talk of it is causing concerns for a Wake County family facing a serious medical diagnosis.

Dee Phelan is battling cancer and wants to sell her home in the Turner Farms neighborhood, just outside Garner.

But the home is along one of 17 potential routes of the future highway that federal rules require the North Carolina Department of Transportation to consider.

According to the DOT, a preferred route for the 540 project – which will connect the final section of the outer loop, south of Raleigh, from Holly Springs to Knightdale – will not be chosen for at least two more years.

Construction is not scheduled to begin until 2018.

"When I heard about it, I just cried, because I said, 'I do not need this in my life right now,'" Phelan said Wednesday. "The timeline is unpredictable, and I wanted to move forward and be closer to my grandchildren."

Phelan's husband, John Phelan, said that with the possibility of a major roadway in the area, selling their home of more than 20 years would be near impossible.

If he could move it on the market, he says, he believes he would get much less than he needs for it.

"Anybody who would want to buy the house would know this is close to where 540 could end up," he said.

Countless other people could be in the same situation as the Phelans. Recent meetings for concerned citizens brought out thousands.

"They have got to wait, too, and see what (the DOT) is going to pick," Dee Phelan said.

That wait is the problem for the Phelans.

"Our home is part of our future," she said.

With her cancer diagnosis, the family is unsure of that future, and they want to move forward.

"We are just kind of stuck," John Phelan said.


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  • stephkenner Oct 24, 2013

    Stephkenner, you said that you didn't know of the 540 expansion when you purchased your home in 2012. How can that be? Couldn't you go after your seller for not disclosing this info.

    No. We bought our house in March of 2012. The lilac route wasn't added to the map until September of 2012. I've already talked to the DOT to see when they decided to add the lilac route to make sure our realtor wasn't pulling a fast one. In the same day, I talked to the NC Realty Commission 1st to find out if there was anything we could do if our realtor knew & didn't disclose. Then I called the realtor to see if he knew & he didn't & then I called the DOT to see when the lilac route was decided upon to see if the realtor was lying or not. He wasn't. Had we known this was going to be an issue, we wouldn't have bought our house there.

  • jlcoopson Oct 24, 2013

    "you said that you didn't know of the 540 expansion when you purchased your home in 2012. How can that be? Couldn't you go after your seller for not disclosing this info." - amused

    Amused- I know for our situation, when it was not disclosed to us and we found out about 540 2 years after we moved, we contacted an attorney and they said there was no legal action that could be taken until we tried to sell the house and could prove the value had gone down due to 540. When we tried to sell 5 years after we bought the house (3 years after we learned about 540) we tried listing with the disclosure first as that would be an easier route to take. When we were clearly seeing a large drop in value specifically due to 540 having to be disclosed when selling (even though wasn't disclosed to us) we contacted an attorney(different one), but at that point the statue of limitations was up. Had we known about statue of limitations 3 years prior we would have tried to sell then

  • Amused Oct 24, 2013

    Stephkenner, you said that you didn't know of the 540 expansion when you purchased your home in 2012. How can that be? Couldn't you go after your seller for not disclosing this info.

  • jlcoopson Oct 24, 2013

    "Even if it's listed, no one is going to buy it after they disclose that 540 is going to be built there" - stephkenner

    I couldn't agree with you more! our house was listed for 6 months before we decided to rent (after receiving multiple offers for 15-20% less than what it was listed at - with the reason being uncertainty for highway - and it was listed at the same amount as one that was listed 5 houses down 2 months prior sold for with the same layout, lot size, sq ft, etc) only ours backed up to one of the potential 540 routes. We finally had to take it off the market and rent it out.

    When looking for our new house, any potentially near any 540 routes were crossed off the list before we even saw them (and the potential of 540 in our backyard was the only reason we were moving) the whole thing is frustrating!

  • jlcoopson Oct 24, 2013

    You do need to disclose when listing your house, and it can impact value. We lived near Turner Farms, and when we bought our house (that would have backed up to the highway, potentially in the path if route selected and the highway moved by 100 feet) It was not disclosed to us (we had looked at several others in the area that it was disclosed, but this was not and moving from out of town we assumed it would be disclosed if it was close like the others). We found out 2 years after we bought the house when we got a letter from the DOT, fast forward to this year when we tried to sell our house and put the disclosure, offers we were getting were 15-20% lower than identical comps 5 houses down the street that sold a few months prior, with the reason from buyers being the uncertainty of the highway. Depending on where in turner farms they are, it could drastically impact their value. We ended up deciding to rent our house instead of sell so we could wait and see what was going to happen.

  • jcthai Oct 24, 2013

    Sharpeyes, owners do NOT get generously compensated by the state when it condemns land for stuff like this. If you are lucky enough to be on some land that a developer dearly wants, you will be handsomely compensated. The state? Nope. The state will low ball everybody involved.

  • MarkNC Oct 24, 2013

    Rent the home.

  • kcfoxie Oct 24, 2013

    "People don't want to buy a house & then have to move 4 years later. stephkenner" --- average home ownership is 5 years. So, really, you're wrong there. People do and would be happy, and the right owner might even be willing to pay the price. If they've owned it 20 years even at a depressed rate it should pay off what they owe. In the end it's about breaking even, isn't it?

  • Obamacare is here Oct 24, 2013

    Seems like plenty of people in Garner enjoy complaining.

  • drjones74 Oct 24, 2013

    Garner=mostly conservatives. Conservatives=mostly not supporting mass transit. Not supporting mass transit=needing more roads. Needing more roads=problems in Garner. You see how this works...?