Henson Fuerst Secures Major Win For Property Owner Impacted by PUE Taking

On the heels of a major win in Wake County regarding permanent utility easements (PUEs) taken by the NC Department of Transportation, attorneys David Henson and Chris Beacham report a second victory in a Craven County case involving the identical issue. In this second win (and only the third known case in the state!), Henson Fuerst attorneys have been challenging the overly broad nature of PUEs taken by the state in commercial condemnation cases.

In this most recent case, involving a busy restaurant on Highway 70 in the New Bern area, our team of attorneys again went to the courtroom to argue that the PUEs taken by the DOT effectively allow the Department and a broad range of utility companies to install more than 24 different utility structures on property owners’ land–including fencing–which can be used to completely exclude a property owner from the easement area. This is a huge issue when utility easement areas cross entrances, exits, and parking spaces for a high traffic business. Other structures allowed by the easements include: power poles, lines (gas, sewer, water, electrical, oil, communications) small cell transmitter structures, wireless facilities, sign boards, gas blow off valves and pig launchers, and SLK sites.

In this most recent case, the judge ordered:

  1. That just compensation be determined by presuming that the DOT will exercise all of the PUE rights taken, not just what they currently intend to do with the land,
  2. That the DOT has the right to exclude the property owners from the easement area in perpetuity,
  3. That all of the items allowed by North Carolina General Statutes § 136-18 may be placed by the DOT or utility companies without consultation of consent.

This order is important to all property owners across the state who have been recently impacted by a PUE taking on their property. Until the DOT modifies this taking language and adopts a position that guarantees property owners access to these easement areas, attorneys and their clients should consider pursuing similar Section 108 hearings to ensure all rights are considered in the litigation.

Representing Property Owners Across North Carolina

Our eminent domain attorneys regularly assist property owners in matters involving PUE takings. If you have questions about your rights as a property owner under current laws, contact the land condemnation lawyers at Henson Fuerst today by calling 919-781-1107 or submitting a free case evaluation form online.