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Property owner sues Brunswick County over eminent domain

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A Boiling Spring Lakes man is looking for answers after he says the county took land that he owned.

Eminent domain lets government take ownership of private property for public use in exchange for fair market value. And that's where the problem lies in this case.

Dan lichty has lived in Boiling Spring Lakes for nearly 35 years. He has spent the last few years purchasing land he hoped would turn a profit during his retirement.

"How am I going to recover from this since I borrowed all this money on my house, and I get $3,000?" Lichty said. "I'm probably not going to be able to sell it, because who would want one with a lift station."

Lichty says his plans were railroaded by North Carolina's eminent domain law. The law says the government is required to pay "just compensation" for the property based on its fair market value.

"They took a residential lot to support the sewer system," Lichty said. "My eventual plans were to get it rezoned commercial and sell it once I got it developed."

But the county decided to build a lift station right in the middle of the 10 lots Lichty owns along NC 87.

"This is all legal," Lichty said. "It's OK to take my property. It's not for public use. It's for economic development."

One of the things Lichty has now done is to put up stakes and painted them purple; a sign that he says means do not trespass.

Brunswick County Attorney Huey Marshall says he cannot comment on this particular case, because it is in litgation. He says a jury of lichty's peers will make the final decision on what is "just compensation."

Lichty says he was first approached last June about the county purchasing his land, but he wasn't notified on the exact location of the lift station until he stumbled upon contractors digging up his land in November.

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