What is a right of way or ROW agent? A ROW agent is the person who is responsible for negotiations when taking over land in a land condemnation project. While they are the face you may actually see and the individual you will interact with, they are just one player in a much larger state structure.
If your land is being taken by the NC Department of Transportation, then there is a huge pyramid. But In a nutshell, it looks something like this. Board of Transportation, Secretary of Transportation, State Highway Administrator, Deputy Highway Administrator of Preconstruction, Right of Way Branch, Right of Way Manager, Right of Way Agents.
The Right of Way Agent handles most of the day to day affairs of the acquisition part of the project once the project is approved.
ROW agent’s tasks include early acquisitions, protective acquisitions, and hardship acquisitions. Preliminary field inspections where they come out and actually set foot on your land and inspect it. They may also take soil samples, walk across your land, and put up survey markers. They are legally entitled to do all of these things so long as they do not damage your land.
Determining the presence of any existing right of ways such as utilities. Pre-appraisal negotiations for typically less than $25,000. Direct Communication with the owner. Keeping a negotiation diary in which they document everything they do and all conversations with you. Coordinating an appraisal of your property. Negotiation with you or your lawyer on the value of your land, home or business. Turning the file over to the Attorney General’s Office if the case cannot be negotiated so that they can file suit against you in a formal land condemnation proceeding.
Now the most important thing to remember is that the ROW agent works for the state, not for you. So he or she is not there to help you get more money. In fact, that agent is there to try and get you to accept the least possible amount for your land. That is what they get paid to do.
We recommend that you contact an experienced eminent domain lawyer as early in this process as possible so that your legal rights can be protected each step of the way.
If you have any questions about this complicated process, feel free to call a Henson Fuerst attorney at 800-452-9633