12/24/07 — Bypass to take 22 lots on route

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Bypass to take 22 lots on route

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on December 24, 2007 1:57 PM

More convenient trips from Goldsboro to the coast — and to Raleigh — are the reasons officials give for building the U.S. 70 Goldsboro bypass.

But for 22 Goldsboro area homes and trailers and the Amerigas location on North William Street, the new road is probably anything but convenient.

Those property owners are in the roadway’s way — and they will have to move as the N.C. Department of Trans-portation schedules construction on the four-lane, 20.6-mile bypass.

At least one of those impending moves showed up in court this month, as a condemnation action that means the Department of Transpor-tation now owns the Amerigas location, D.O.T. spokeswoman Dara Demi said.

Ms. Demi said because of the state’s power of eminent domain, national company Amerigas will not be able to delay a project that could begin within the next year, according to the N.C. D.O.T’s 2007-2013 Transportation Improvement Plan.

Erika Spott, counsel for Valley Forge, Pa.-based Amerigas, said that the current timeline poses a problem for the company.

Amerigas sells heating gas, and the state department has requested a move “pretty much in the middle of winter,” Ms. Spott said.

“Our concern at the moment is the timeline for relocation. We do provide propane for heating and cooking,” Ms. Spott said. “Our primary focus is to provide dependable service to our customers.”

For a heating fuel provider, the move sometime in winter would put a damper on the ability to provide dependable service, Ms. Spott continued.

Ms. Demi added that the course of the roadway was selected for the least impact upon the environment, to humans and for cost effectiveness.

The roadway also courses through a portion of the Claridge State Nursery, where a $2.5- to $3-million project will rehabilitate much of a stream called “The Canal.”

Around 30 acres of wetland are also expected to be restored along with the project, N.C. Division of Forest Resources officials said.

But the money set aside for Amerigas — $242,300 — might still be a figure of contention.

Ms. Spott said the state can take ownership of land “provided that they pay just compensation.”

“As to whether that ($242,300) is just compensation, is an issue that we have to look closer at,” Ms. Spott said. “Under the local rules, that’s still an open issue.”

Amerigas Chief Executive Officer Gene Bissell said he was unaware of the project.

Bissell said Amerigas has about 650 manned districts, with around 1,000 properties completely staffed by company employees.

County Manager Lee Smith sits on a commission that oversees the U.S. 70 Strategic Highway Corridor project.

Right-of-way acquisition is not always pretty, but there are things the government can do to help affected businesses and citizens with some financial issues, Smith said.

“There’s no such thing as a friendly condemnation,” Smith said. “But you can work with them on tax issues” and other financial matters.

The new four-lane roadway is being completed in four phases — construction on a length between U.S. 117 and Wayne Memorial Drive might start as soon as spring of 2008, Smith said.

Another phase will extend the roadway from the intersection of U.S. 70 and N.C. 581 to the U.S. 117 bypass.

An additional two phases had not been scheduled by the Department of Transportation in September.

A receptionist at the North William Street Amerigas location said the store had already been made aware of a timetable to move.

The manager of the location did not return a phone message for comment.

—Staff writer Matthew Whittle contributed to this report.