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NC Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Map Act Use In Winston Salem

When it comes to eminent domain, North Carolina is one of 13 states that allow its transportation department to effectively control private property that may someday become part of a road. This means that compensation may take years, or in some cases, decades. This power is granted through what’s called the Map Act.

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday concerning use of the Map Act for the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway. Several hundred residents hope a ruling will bring an end to more than two decades of waiting for compensation.

The design for the proposed 34-mile beltway has been in the works since the 1990s.  There are more than 2,000 properties in the road’s corridor. The state has bought some of them over the years, but hundreds more remain. Several residents have since sued the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Last year, the N.C. Court of Appeals said the state has to pay landowners. NCDOT appealed that ruling. Now the state Supreme Court is reviewing the lower court’s decision.

Elaine Smith-Eurey lives in the western side of the project’s pathway on Village Oak Drive. Her home is only one of a handful left standing in her neighborhood. She says the state has forgotten that it’s dealing with human beings and not just property.

"When we purchased our properties we were young people but we are no longer young and what I fear the most is that this is going to become my child’s problem," Smith-Eurey says.

NCDOT was contacted, but only said in a statement that the "NCDOT doesn't comment about ongoing legal cases."

This story was changed to reflect that DOT did respond to request for comments. A previous version said DOT did not respond.