Impact of COVID-19 on Eminent Domain and Land Condemnation Cases
A little update about how the Coronavirus is affecting your eminent domain/condemnation case. All North Carolina courts are closed until further notice, except for emergency cases. Despite that, pleadings and other documents can still be filed. Mediations are still taking place via videoconferences. The NC Department of Transportation’s condemnation section is still functioning, while employees are encouraged to remain at home.
Here at Henson Fuerst, our condemnation staff is still working, whether remotely or in the office. We are following CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and, thus not meeting with clients or potential clients in person. We are, however, still taking phone calls and responding to emails. If a videoconference is required for any reason, we can do that. In a nutshell, we are open for business.
As you know, last summer the NC DOT suspended over 900 road projects due to a severe budget crunch. Some of those suspensions have been lifted, but an overwhelming majority of projects are still suspended. Before the Coronavirus hit North Carolina, the budget crunch was already affecting our clients, mainly in how soon they receive their settlement checks. What used to take 8-10 weeks during normal times, now takes between 3-4 months. It can be expected that the time to receive a settlement check can only increase during this period.
Additionally, NC DOT’s condemnation section has recently lost several experienced attorneys and assistants. They have been replaced mostly by people with little, if any, condemnation experience.
For those of you who have already been contacted by a right-of-way agent because your property is being condemned, delays can be expected in NC DOT appraisal inspections due to the social distancing requirements. Delays can also be expected in negotiations, the drafting of closing documents and receiving answers regarding project plans.
Continue to check us out regularly as we will be posting informative articles and videos about the condemnation process and all its various components.