Property owners in toll-road path: DOT 'holding us hostage'

Posted October 24, 2011
Updated October 25, 2011

— A group of people who own property along the proposed path for the extension of N.C. Highway 540 in southern Wake County say they plan to file suit over state regulations that they say are limiting their ability to sell or develop the property.

The state Department of Transportation creates "protected corridors" in areas where future highways are planned to restrict development and keep the cost of land acquisition low. Thousands of acres statewide are covered by protected corridors, including Wake County land slated for the southern extension of N.C. 540, which would be part of the Triangle Expressway toll road.

Many property owners within the N.C. 540 corridor, which has been protected since the 1990s, say they feel as if they're in limbo.

"We had offer after offer fall through," said Pat Johnson, whose childhood home sits on 63 acres near the intersection of Kildaire Farm and Holly Springs roads that her grandfather once owned.

Half of the property now includes a mobile home park, but Johnson has been trying to sell the land for years, saying the park just doesn't generate enough money. She also has a $35,000 annual tax bill, which she says she can no longer afford.

In 2002, when development in the area was booming, someone offered $9 million for the property, but it was later withdrawn.

The DOT has offered Johnson about $108,000 an acre for 11 acres of her property in the corridor, but she says that's only half of what the land is worth.

Protected corridor for NC 540 Suit planned by property owners in NC 540 path

"There's no way I'm taking that," she said after giving the offer a "Bronx cheer."

Martha Wiseman, who has property in the protected corridor about 4 miles east of Johnson's land, said she believes waiting for DOT for 14 years has violated her property rights.

"Right now, we don't have any options. They still kind of hold us hostage," said Wiseman, whose attorney is drafting a class-action lawsuit.

The attorneys say they hope to bring fair value and true compensation to property owners along the southern portion of N.C. 540. They plan to hold an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Holly Springs Civic Center.

DOT spokesman Drew Joyner said the corridor law is intended to protect North Carolina taxpayers.

"DOT doesn't have an unlimited source of funding, so we buy (land) when it's necessary," Joyner said. "I don't think everybody could not sell their property. I think people would have opportunities to sell."

Johnson, who isn't part of the planned lawsuit, dismisses that argument.

"Well, I could sell it, sell it for beans," she said. "It's unfair. The law needs to be changed."


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  • barbstillkickin Oct 26, 2011

    Come on people the state is paying high price for this land and these land owners have known this for a long time. Stop blaming the state it is you drivers that need the extra roads with all your road rage. Take the money and run you will never get a better offer. Libertarians are not the answer it is a new Senate, House, and President. Time to clean out the government and put in people who care for the country not the money.

  • yabo2k3 Oct 25, 2011

    63 acres and 11 being purchased at $108k each. She should demand that an exit be put on the land and all remaining deemed commercial so she can open gas stations and everything else. This will make her far more money.

  • mindcrime Oct 25, 2011

    Keep electing Republicans and Democrats, folks... you'll keep getting more of this Big Government rubbish. If you want a common sense approach to government, that gets the State out of the business of interfering in your life, then it's time to start electing Libertarians. No Libertarian would support the legislation that purports to give the State the "authority" to pull a stunt like this.

  • Boogalooboy Oct 25, 2011

    Ya gotta watch em, they left two roads off a traffic count regarding a new school on our road. Approx 6000 trips more per day and as govt moved along all of this was revealed to our county commissioner but the unanimously voted for the change... hmmmmm

  • NeverSurrender Oct 25, 2011

    "By owning property in the general area where 540 is set to go through you assumed the risk that it could be rerouted through your property."

    Not necessarily...the RED ROUTE that was going to plough through much of inhabited Garner was a later addition due required by the Feds due to the stupidity of protecting mussels rather than the taxpayers.

    Until it was positively quashed by the legislature because DOT refused to get a clue, the RED ROUTE pretty much killed any real estate activity in the area and caused undue heartache and hassle for the Garner residents.

  • cpdtg Oct 25, 2011

    Save my tax dollars JUST TAKE IT that will save her money on taxes

  • corey3rd Oct 25, 2011

    could be worse. A pal discovered the main street he uses to get out of his neighborhood is being cut off thanks to 540. So now he no longer has direct access to 64. It's going to ruin his property value.

  • pat7 Oct 25, 2011

    She better take it now Or they will just take it with out paying her.

  • davidgnews Oct 25, 2011

    "Suck it up folks the state can do what it has to to develop the roadways to keep up with the growth."

    Prices notwithstanding, eminent domain isn't necessarily a good thing.

  • cwood3 Oct 25, 2011

    Sounds like a reasonable price for land in the way of a road.
    Don't count on more-better take the 1+M and run. Don't get too greedy!!