But Abrams said there are things people miss in the process, and dont understand the rights they still have, Keep in mind that the right of way agent, the appraiserall these peoplecertainly work for the Department of Transportation, not necessarily work for the property ownerthats kind of important. The other thing too is, we talk to property owners all over, and a lot of them will feel in some way like theyre obligated or they have to accept what theyre offered at some point by the DOT, and so the important thing to remember there is there is certainly youre not obligated to accept what the DOT is offering. Abrams said, What happens is the DOT is then required to deposit the amount of that first offerthe amount of that appraisalinto the Clerk of Courts office in the county in which the property is located. And he said, And what sometimes people miss is this; with the correct legal filing, you can file a motion to have that money withdrawn from the clerks office. That money can be yours, and in the meantime you can continue throughout the court process to try to get more money for the taking of your property. Abrams also explained that just the value of the real property taken is not the only consideration, as taking portions of a persons property can devalue the rest of the property in a number of ways.
Joe Dean Ledbetter of the DOT, talking to Boone Chamber members earlier this month, said that the project is large enough that it had to be divided into three parts, and one of those missed a deadline for former funding parameters instituted by the State Legislature last year, The missing piece is between Idlewild Road and the elementary schoolis the section that was scheduled for completion later. He said, It was too long of a project to reallywith our cash flow situation we cant commit to that much money to contract at one time, and its just not very feasible for a contractor to build a project that long all at once. So we broke it into three projects, so were going to have them working on both ends and come back and finish the middle. But, according to Ledbetter, that puts the center of the project under the new rules the legislature enacted for prioritizing projects, and it has not gone through that evaluation. NC Eminent Domain says in their release that the NCDOTs $154 million project to widen US-221 between Deep Gap and Jefferson will result in the displacement of approximately 70 homes, 33 businesses, and two religious facilities, according to the NCDOTs environmental assessment, at least 150 property owners. Stan Abrams said theyre looking, yes, to pick up clients, but mainly to provide information to property owners effected by the construction, If at some point you cant come to an agreement with the DOT, you have the right to have a jury trial in that county and have a jury determine what you recover for the taking of your property. The meeting is Thursday night, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Hotel of West Jefferson 203 Hampton Pl Ct, West Jefferson.