The Map Act is a state law that allows road planners to establish official maps of future road corridors in order to freeze development within the maps, reducing property values, and thereby reducing the amount of just compensation that must eventually be paid to property owners.
North Carolina is one of a small number of states that use map acts to restrict property rights inside future road corridors. Of those states with map acts, North Carolina’s offers the least protection for property owners. Building and subdivision permit applications can be delayed for up to three years at a time under North Carolina’s Map Act. Even worse, there is no time limit in North Carolina on how long an official map can continue to encumber a property. The Map Act is used in dozens of projects across the state, affecting hundreds — if not thousands — of property owners.
- The North Carolina Transportation Corridor Official Map Act allows the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and local government authorities to file official corridor maps, the effect of which is to indefinitely restrict development of properties lying within the map.
- Once a map is established, applications for building and subdivision permits must get NCDOT approval. NCDOT can delay a permit for up to three years (1,095 days).
- Only 12 other states have comparable map act statutes. Thirty-seven states accomplish their corridor preservation goals without restricting property rights as under the Map Act.
- Eleven map act states limit permit delays to 365 days or less. In Tennessee the delay can be no longer than 80 days. Utah has no time limit on permit delays, but property owners have the right to demand at any time to be acquired or released from a map.
- Property owners in the Forsyth County Northern Beltway corridor have been under an official map for nearly two decades, since 1997. The Northern Beltway property owners took their complaints to court, seeking to finally be acquired and to challenge the constitutionality of the Map Act.
- With the official map encumbering these properties, property values have plummeted and the owners cannot sell their properties at reasonable returns.
- There is an advanced acquisition program for property owners with financial or medical hardships, but the Northern Beltway property owners have argued that advanced acquisitions have been granted in a selective and arbitrary manner.
- Courts in several other jurisdictions have found long delays related to future condemnation to be unconstitutional violations of the right to just compensation. Violations have been found in as little as 2.5 years. The indefinite nature of North Carolina’s Map Act clearly threatens property owners’ rights.
- Repeal the Map Act entirely, opting instead for traditional acquisition and condemnation procedures.
- Short of full repeal, the Map Act should be amended to set a reasonable time limit on building and subdivision permit delays of 80 to 120 days. In addition, no official corridor map should last more than 1 to 3 years.
- The advance acquisition hardship program should be reformed to establish clear guidelines and minimize the amount of discretion officials have in denying applications.