Property owner wins legal battle with NCDOT, awarded $1.2 million

Property owner wins legal battle with NCDOT, awarded $1.2 million

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A jury awarded a Wilmington property owner $1.2 million in a lawsuit over the Kerr Avenue widening project.

According to attorney George Autry, who represents Carmine LLC, the North Carolina Department of Transportation project would take more than 50 parking spaces from his client's property, known as the North 17th Plaza, located at Market Street and Kerr Avenue.

A DOT appraiser assessed the property to be worth $263,000. However, an expert brought in by Autry testified at the trial the appraisal should have been $1.2 million.

The case went to trial Monday and the jury announced its verdict in the eminent domain case Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Secretary of State's website, Carmine LLC is registered to Shameer and Maria Lookman.

"Wilmington needs these projects because of all the traffic, but when you take people's property you have to be fair to them and the DOT is not in the ballpark on some of these things," said Autry.

Attorneys from the North Carolina Department of Justice represented the DOT. Noelle Talley, a spokesperson for the NCDOJ, said the attorneys are reviewing the ruling and consulting with the DOT over whether or not they will appeal the verdict.

Autry is with the law firm of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog. He said they're representing more than a dozen business and property owners who will be impacted by eminent domain from the Kerr Avenue widening project, including ProBuild, a contracting supply company.

Autry said ProBuild, which employs 40 people, stands to lose 60-95 parking spaces. The DOT appraised the property at $300,000 but Autry said it is worth $2.95 million.

Autry expects the other cases to go to court in the fall.

Autry is also representing those who are being impacted by the Military Cutoff extension project.

Copyright 2015 WECT. All rights reserved.