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I want to welcome you to the John Locke Foundation's new
publication providing you timely insight and analysis on property rights. As
many of you know firsthand, property rights has become a secondary right.
In North Carolina, property rights are easily dismissed to
meet the personal whims of policymakers (e.g., forced annexation, eminent
domain abuse, excessive land use regulations). Through this newsletter, I hope
to keep you informed about the challenges faced by North Carolinians seeking to
fight for property rights.
In the Spotlight
Spot the Difference: Venezuela, Bolivia, and North
Many North Carolina policymakers, on both sides of the
aisle, are trying to get the federal government to seize Alcoa's hydroelectric
dam on the Yadkin River. The state allegedly believes it should take the
property and run the dam itself. That would be worse than eminent domain -- it would be
nationalization of industry.
Try to distinguish what Hugo Chavez and Venezuela want
to do and what many North Carolina policymakers want to do.
These attempts to nationalize industries are not unique to
North Carolina and Venezuela. The socialist country Bolivia has also recently nationalized
industries, including hydroelectric dams.
Response to Mooneyham on Alcoa
In a recent op-ed, Scott Mooneyham writes:
Should a private company that no longer provides jobs here
and is not a publicly-regulated utility continue to be allowed to control the
waters of a major North Carolina river for another 50 years?
Supporters of Alcoa's re-licensing say the issue is one of
property rights. They're right.
The North Carolina constitution makes clear that the waters
of the state are the property of the people, not a single company.
- Alcoa is not claiming to own the water.
- Water rights law is poorly developed in this state, but
what law does exist makes it clear that property owners have the right to use
- Where exactly does it say in the Constitution that the
water is the property of the people? I must have missed the section of the
Constitution saying water isn't the property of a single company.
- Even if such language existed, "property of the
people" does not necessarily mean the water is not available for private
- Mr. Mooneyham suggests that this issue would be different
if the company provided jobs or was a public utility. Why would it matter given
his logic that nobody except the state should use the water?
Mr. Mooneyham is doing precisely the same thing that many
North Carolina policymakers are doing. They see an opportunity to take over
someone else's property because they don't like the way it is being used
(without any real evidence of problems with its use) and think the state would
do a better job of running a hydroelectric dam than Alcoa. This thinking is both
arrogant (they assume they know what is for the best) and foolish (thinking the
state can possibly do a better job than Alcoa).
Don't be surprised if the state transfers this property to
another private entity such as land developers or another utility company. This
could be another Kelo-type situation.
Suit Filed Against Town of West Jefferson to Render ETJ
In the ongoing conflict over implementation of the West
Jefferson extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) ordinance, ETJ resident and
vocal opponent of the ordinance Cynthia Wadsworth has fired the next shot.
Asheville City Council: Like it or not
Early next year, nearly 700 people may become Asheville
residents thanks to two involuntary annexations initiated by City Council July
Transportation on the table at public meetings
In Raleigh, members of the Five Points neighborhood will
have an opportunity to question city leaders about a proposed high-speed rail
development known as "NC3." According to meeting organizers, NC3
would require the use of eminent domain to claim a right-of-way along the
current Norfolk Southern rail area from Peace Street to Wake Forest Road.