City of Wilmington considering eminent domain for five properties, council votes Tuesday

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Happening Tuesday, the City of Wilmington will consider using eminent domain to acquire land from five homeowners for a drainage project.

The Clear Run Branch Drainage Improvement Project has been in the works for several years, with a study commissioned by the city in 2013. The goal is to reduce flooding on New Center Drive and College Acres Drive.

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In order to complete it, the city must acquire easements from 55 properties on Clear Run Drive which back up to Clear Run Branch Stream. 50 have settled or tentatively agreed on a price for their portion of land, but five are refusing and citing several concerns.

One of those people is John Golden, who has lived in his home in the 2100 block of Clear Run Drive for 43 years.

“We don’t have erosion problems, we don’t have flooding problems, and this project is likely to cause both for us,” Golden said.

Golden and four other homeowners are now facing potential condemnation through eminent domain. For Golden, this would mean a forced purchase price of $52,058 for 0.29 acres of his land.

Golden says that portion of land includes trees that are more than 100 years old.

“These trees back here in the back part of my backyard, they’re all going to get cut down and removed,” he said. “The creek’s going to get filled in, and then they’re going to cut a new one closer to my house, which is going to bring flood water closer to my house.”

Golden, who spent 34 years with the US Army Corps of Engineers, questions the effectiveness of the plan, and worries it could put him and other neighbors at higher risk of flooding during a storm.

“We’ve been through Fran in 1996, and 1998 or whatever Floyd was. Those were like 500 year rain events, and the water hardly even came out of the banks of the creek that they’re going to fill in,” Golden said. “So they’re going to fill that in, that water is going to have to go somewhere and it’s going to come up toward the backs of our houses.”

Golden’s next door neighbor has a shed that sits on the land the city plans to acquire. Others have concerns about wildlife and vegetation.

If council votes to move forward with the condemnations on Tuesday, it will cost $300,158 or less. The total project will cost $11,010,345, funded by the Stormwater Fund and a $1,410,345 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Association.

Golden says he and other neighbors recently sent a final plea to city council and Mayor Bill Saffo asking them to reconsider.

Council meets Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Wilmington Convention Center.

Click here to view the documents regarding condemnation.

Click here to learn more about the project.