by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Earlier today the NC House passed a bill (HB 183) that would repeal in its entirety a contentious piece of legislation know as the Map Act. As I explained a few weeks ago in a newsletter, when the General Assembly passed the Map Act in 1987 its declared purpose was “to control the cost of acquiring rights-of-way for the State’s highway system.” The Act achieves that purpose by empowering the DOT to create transportation corridors within which “no building permits shall be issued for any building or structure or part thereof…nor shall approval of a subdivision…be granted.” For years the DOT has been using that power to control large tracts of land without formally condemning it and without paying compensation to its owners.
As I also explained the same newsletter, in February — in an admirably thorough and well-reasoned opinion in the case of Kirby v. NCDOT — Chief Judge Linda M. McGee of the NC Court of Appeals ruled that, Map Act or no Map Act, if the State wants to control private property for highways and other transportation projects, it must compensate the property’s owners in a just and timely manner.
In response to that ruling, in March Representatives R. Brown, Conrad, Lambeth, and Watford filed HB 183 which was entitled, “An Act To Repeal the Transportation Corridor Official Map Act.” In addition to repealing the various sections of the NC General Statutes that pertain to the Map Act, the bill instructs the DOT to “study the development of a process for acquiring land for future highway construction that is in accordance with…Kirby v. NCDOT” and submit a report of its findings within six months.
Repealing the Map Act is undoubtedly the right thing to do, and the passage of HB 183 by the House is very good news for North Carolina property owners. Now we must wait and see how the Senate responds.