by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A unanimous N.C. Supreme Court has affirmed an earlier ruling favoring Forsyth County property owners against the N.C. Department of Transportation in a case involving the state’s Map Act.
Writing for the court, Justice Paul Newby notes:
Upon NCDOT’s recording of the highway corridor maps at issue here, the Map Act restricted plaintiffs’ fundamental rights to improve, develop, and subdivide their property for an unlimited period of time. These restraints, coupled with their indefinite nature, constitute a taking of plaintiffs’ elemental property rights by eminent domain. The extent to which plaintiffs may be entitled to just compensation, however, depends upon market valuation of the property before and after the taking. Such determinations must be made on an individual, property-by-property basis. We therefore affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals.
By recording the corridor maps at issue here, which restricted plaintiffs’ rights to improve, develop, and subdivide their property for an indefinite period of time, NCDOT effectuated a taking of fundamental property rights. On remand, the trier of fact must determine the value of the loss of these fundamental rights by calculating the value of the land before the corridor map was recorded and the value of the land afterward, taking into account all pertinent factors, including the restriction on each plaintiff’s fundamental rights, as well as any effect of the reduced ad valorem taxes.