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Under the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the state of North Carolina has the power to use eminent domain to seize private property to be used for the public good, so long as property owners receive just compensation for their losses. In 1987, the state expanded those powers when it enacted the Transportation Corridor Official Map Act (“Map Act”),1 which allowed the state Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to indicate which corridors of land it planned to use for future projects and to prohibit landowners from building on or developing property in those corridors. However, the NCDOT was not required to have a certain timeline for the projects or to compensate landowners for the restrictions on the use of their lands.
In the case of Kirby v. North Carolina Department of Transportation2, several landowners who had been affected by the Map Act since its enactment challenged the constitutionality of the Act and demanded just compensation if the NCDOT continued to restrict their landowner rights. In June, the NC Supreme Court ruled that is was, in fact, unconstitutional to restrict rights without compensation and ordered that the landowners be justly compensated for the restrictions of land development. Sever Storey, LLP helped lead the way for property owners in the Greensboro Northern Loop who were affected by the Map Act, and we filed the first Guilford County cases to challenge the statute on behalf of Greensboro Loop property owners.
Complex challenges to eminent domain powers are highly important because they pave the way for the rights of landowners throughout the state of North Carolina. While the government does have the power to condemn land for certain projects, the government has been known to abuse those powers and it is important for landowners to stand up for their rights. The above case demonstrates how it is possible to prevail in a challenge to the government for overstepping its bounds, even if the law had been enforced for decades.
Contact a North Carolina Eminent Domain Attorney for Assistance Today
Sever Storey, LLP assists landowners in North Carolina and several other states with matters regarding property condemnation. If you have any concerns or if your property has been seized, please call us today at 888-318-3761 for free today.
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