Paging Lowell Siler
Herald Sun reporter Ray Gronberg has managed to suss this out:
A DOT official, Deputy Division 5 Engineer Joey Hopkins, said the document, drafted with help from N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper's staff, was modeled on instruments the agency uses to give up temporary easements.
State law, meanwhile, clearly suggests that DOT has the General Assembly's permission to walk away from a donation.
The statute establishing its power to accept one, G.S. 136-19, says that if the department "later determines that the property acquired for transportation infrastructure, including highway right of way, or a part of that property, is no longer needed," it should give "first consideration" to a repurchase offer from its former owner.
Such an offer in this case would appear superfluous because no money ever changed hands between DOT and the developer. The easement also didn't convey anything beyond usage rights to the agency.
The law also makes it clear DOT is the sole judge of its own property needs.
Siler's inability to come to a conclusion in this case leads one to wonder, can he find his ass with both hands, or does he need a map and a flashlight?