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There is a controversy simmering around the state about government using its right to Eminent Domain to seize private property.

A recent article in the News and Observer – about the Triangle Transit Authority – gives an example. Last year, the TTA took Mr. Bob Morrison’s business, ‘Bob’s Service Garage,’ in Durham because it wanted the land to put up a Lite-Rail train depot.

When they took Mr. Morrison’s property they offered to pay him $215,000. The problem was he owed $300,000 on his mortgage -- so he had to hire a lawyer and go to court to fight the TTA. Last month, the TTA paid him $480,000 (News and Observer; 8-22-06)

But that’s not the end of the story. A few days later the TTA announced it had given up on getting federal grants to build Lite-Rail. Mr. Morrison told the newspaper: “So they done got my place and got me out of that place for what reason? They don’t deal like normal people normally do business.”

In the end, after a legal wrangle, Mr. Morrison was compensated for his property. But as his lawyer said: “…that’s not what Bob wanted. Bob wanted his service garage. Those things have been taken. Now there’s a question of whether they have been taken for anything that’s ever going to happen.”

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