In July 2017

Gene Kirby

Finally, Gene Kirby could breathe easier. Last summer, the N.C. Supreme Court ruled the state unconstitutionally took 40 acres from him for a planned Forsyth County highway, without paying. He’d bought it decades earlier, with a vision. “My son would grow up, become my partner, and we’d develop it.” He was 82, but he’d at last be paid, with interest. A year later, he hasn’t been.

More than 450 landowners like him statewide have sued. “Not a single one has received a nickel,” says Matthew Bryant, Kirby’s attorney, adding that the N.C. Department of Transportation has paid $2.4 million to outside attorneys who’ve delayed property-owner payments through appeals.

The 1987 Transportation Corridor Official Map Act, intended to prevent development in the path of highways, allowed the state to ban all but minor improvements to businesses to keep land values from escalating (“Road closures,” April 2016). But many highway plans languish, unfunded since the 1960s, and property owners contend they’re stuck with land they cannot sell or develop, without any compensation.

The DOT estimates about 4,400 properties are affected, worth about $500 million to $1 billion. In 2015, Bryant won the case in the N.C. Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court.

Now, Bryant says the DOT is back in court, appealing orders to appraise property like Kirby’s and set aside money to pay for it. “They’ve done nothing to appraise a single piece of property that we’re aware of, except in one county,” he says. That’s in Cleveland, where a U.S. 74 bypass will skirt Shelby.

In Raleigh, a DOT spokesperson said the department’s appeal is an attempt to clarify how to implement the Supreme Court decision statewide, rather than case-by-case in affected counties.

Bryant says he’s baffled by the state’s appeals. “It’s not like they’re dumping money down a hole,” he says. “They’re paying a dollar and getting a dollar’s worth of land.” As for Kirby? “He’s just eager to get it taken care of.”


GREENSBORO — Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg is closing two distribution centers in the state, resulting in 250 job cuts here and 233 in Charlotte. The layoffs are expected to be complete by mid-August.

GREENSBORO — Tanger Factory Outlet Centers named Chief Operating Officer Thomas McDonough president. He joined the company in 2010 as executive vice president of operations and previously was a partner at Trammell Crow, a Dallas-based real-estate developer. McDonough has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard University.

WINSTON-SALEM — Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice will combine with United-Kingdom-based Bond Dickinson. The firm, to be called Womble Bond Dickinson, will have more than 1,000 lawyers at 23 offices and revenue of more than $410 million. Started here in 1876, Womble Carlyle has 15 offices in seven states and the District of Columbia, including Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro and Raleigh.

WINSTON-SALEM — Debra Crew will remain president and CEO of Reynolds American after the cigarette company’s expected $49 billion acquisition by British American Tobacco in the third quarter. Andrew Gilchrist, chief financial officer, will resign. His replacement has not been named.

WINSTON-SALEM — Dickinson. The  firm, to be called Womble Bond Dickinson, will have more than 1,000 lawyers at 23 offices and revenue of more than $410 million. Started here in 1876, Womble Carlyle has 15 offices in seven states and the District of Columbia, including Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, and Raleigh.

WINSTON-SALEM — Debra Crew will remain president and CEO of Reynolds American after the cigarette company’s expected $49 billion acquisition by British American Tobacco in the third quarter. Andrew Gilchrist, chief financial officer, will resign. His replacement has not been named.

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