The state Department of Transportation has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by five Wake County landowners who seek to force DOT to buy their land immediately for a road project proposed as a toll-road extension of the Triangle Expressway.
The landowners claim that DOT effectively took their property in 1996 when it marked a swath of land between Holly Springs and Garner as the preferred path for the southern leg of Raleigh's 540 Outer Loop. They argue that DOT unfairly has prevented them from developing the land or selling it at its full market value. (See landowners' complaint PDF, attached below.)
DOT took steps to protect its preferred corridor under a law that limits development of land that might be needed for a highway. Other landowners have exercised a "hardship" provision giving them the option to petition DOT to buy their land immediately; the plaintiffs argue that this option should be open also to property owners who do not meet the law's criteria of economic and physical hardship.
In its 12-page response (attached below), filed Monday in Wake Superior Court, DOT said the five plaintiffs have never asked DOT to buy their land and have not requested a variance needed to allow them to develop or build on the land. The landowners suing DOT are James and Carol Deans, Mose and Martha Wiseman, and Veronica Williams Woodruff, all with Apex addresses.
DOT asked the court to reject all the landowners' claims.