Beltway Landowners’ Lawsuits, State Seeks Dismissal

By Nethani Palmani | Mar 17, 2017 11:58 AM EDT

State attorneys are seeking to dismiss 73 lawsuits property owners have filed against the N.C. Department of Transportation in the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway cases. The cases were filed after the N.C. Supreme Court ruled that the state had taken property rights from other beltway landowners without compensation.

The Supreme Court ruling discovered that the state had violated the beltway landowners' "fundamental property rights" under "inverse condemnation," according to WFMY. An inverse condemnation happens when a property right has already been taken by the state without compensation.

Forsyth Superior Court Judge John O. Craig III told the state to begin the process of compensating the beltway landowners in an October 2016 order, according to Winston-Salem Journal. However, he declined to say whether the state should pay based on a total taking of the land or possibly some other basis, such as taking by easement.

While the landowners have argued that the taking was a full taking of the land, the state argues that there was no taking at all. The state argued on Monday that 23 of the new cases should be dismissed because the beltway landowners are not the owners of the land, considering its designation in the road corridor.

Noting that the state denies the inverse condemnation claims, Craig said that the state's Supreme Court had ruled otherwise and that "in most cases it is as plain as the nose on your face." Meanwhile, the beltway landowners are still waiting for the N.C. Court of Appeals to rule on another aspect of the previously-filed 200 inverse condemnation cases.

Craig will rule on Friday whether the cases will move forward like the previously filed 200 cases, or state motions will be granted for dismissal. Craig will also hear arguments about the rate of interest that beltway landowners would be due should the courts determine a financial ruling in their favor.

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