in the Court of Appeals 18 October 2016. 
by Defendants and cross-appeal by Plaintiff from order
entered 24 November 2015 by Judge Mary Ann Tally in
Cumberland County Superior Court Cumberland County, No. 12
CVS 3993, 4714.
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Alvin W. Keller, Jr.,
Elizabeth N. Strickland and Shawn R. Evans, for the
Law Offices of Lonnie M. Player, Jr. PLLC, by Lonnie M.
Player, Jr., and Jennifer L. Malone, for the Defendants.
matter involves a partial taking by Plaintiff, the
Department of Transportation ("DOT"), of land owned
by Defendants (the "Riddles") as part of DOT's
plan to re-route a section of NC Highway 24 in Cumberland
County. This appeal is from an interlocutory order in which
the trial court determined how much of the
Riddles' entire land holdings in the relevant area
constitute the "entire tract" for purposes of
determining just compensation.
2002, Joseph Riddle acquired 26 acres of land on the
northeast corner of two state roads. The land was bounded on
the south by NC Highway 24 (a major east-west thoroughfare)
and bounded on the west by Maxwell Road. Mr. Riddle acquired
the land in order to develop a shopping center facing NC
Highway 24 and to develop outparcels fronting NC Highway 24
and an outparcel fronting Maxwell Road.
after the purchase, Mr. Riddle subdivided the 26-acre parcel
into seven (7) separate lots, referred to herein as Lots 1-7.
In 2005, Mr. Riddle sold one of the outparcels fronting NC
Highway 24 (Lot 5) to a fast-food restaurant developer. Mr.
Riddle still controls the other six lots.
is the largest of the seven lots at over 9 acres, and is
where Mr. Riddle has since developed the shopping
center. The shopping center is anchored by a Food
Lion grocery store and a Family Dollar retail store.
is an undeveloped outparcel which fronts Maxwell Road to the
west of the shopping center. Lots 3, 4 and 6 are undeveloped
outparcels fronting NC Highway 24 in front of the shopping
is an undeveloped lot, shaped like an upside-down "L,
" fronting both NC Highway 24 and Maxwell Road. The main
portion of this lot fronts NC Highway 24, just east of the
shopping center lot, and runs behind the shopping center lot
(Lot 1) and along the north side of Lot 2 where it fronts
ago, DOT adopted a plan to re-route the traffic flow of NC
Highway 24 from the front of the shopping center and most of
the outparcels to behind the shopping center. The DOT plan
called for the portion of NC Highway 24 being replaced to
remain as a secondary access road.
2012, as part of its plan to re-route NC Highway 24, DOT
commenced this action by filing a complaint and declaration of
taking for portions of Lot 2 and Lot 7. No portions of Lot 1
or Lots 3-6 were taken. In its Declaration of Taking, DOT
identified only Lots 2 and 7 as land "affected" by
the taking. The Riddles responded by alleging that all seven
lots constitute a single tract for purposes of DOT's
taking and, therefore, should be considered together by a
jury in determining damages.
2014, the trial court entered an order concluding that the
jury could only consider the effect of the taking on Lots 2
and 7. The Riddles appealed that order to this Court. In
2015, we remanded the matter, ordering the trial court to
determine whether any of the other five lots should be
unified with Lots 2 and 7 for purposes of determining just
compensation. See D.O.T. v. Riddle, __ N.C.App. __,
775 S.E.2d 36 (2015) (unpublished).
remand, the trial court conducted another pre-trial hearing
and ordered that Lot 1 be unified with Lots 2 and 7 for
purposes of determining just compensation. The Riddles
appealed, contending that the effect of the taking on the
other four lots should be considered by the jury. DOT
cross-appealed, contending that the trial on damages ...