by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
The Center Square recently ran a story on an Apex homeowner who has been fighting for her property rights for half a decade. The Center Square’s Nyamekye Daniel writes:
An Apex homeowner’s five-year dispute with the town continues despite several courts ruling the town violated the North Carolina constitution by installing a sewer line on the resident’s property.
Apex used North Carolina’s eminent domain law, which allows government to take private land for public use, to defend the decision. The Wake County Superior Court ruled against the move in 2016 because the sewer system profited a private developer.
Despite the town of Apex having lost this case in three separate courts, the town managed to find a judge who would rule in their favor on the fourth try. If this ruling is allowed to let stand, it could have serious consequences across the state. Daniel quotes JLF’s Jon Guze:
North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) and the John Locke Foundation have filed a legal brief in support of the homeowner Beverly Rubin’s appeal of the court’s 2020 ruling to allow the sewer easement…
“This is clearly an unconstitutional taking. If Apex prevails, the town’s behavior sets an alarming precedent for every North Carolinian,” said Jon Guze, the John Locke Foundation’s director of legal studies. “Property owners will be stripped of the only protection they currently have against eminent domain abuse.”
The town’s argument in their favor is a precarious one. In a recent research brief from our Jon Guze, he explains:
Judge O’Neal found that the town’s use of eminent domain violated both the North Carolina and United States constitutions because “The paramount reason for the taking [was] for a private interest and the public’s interest was merely incidental.” She also held that the town’s claim to Ms. Rubin’s property was “null and void.”
The John Locke Foundation and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) filed a joint legal brief in support of the homeowner’s appeal.
Watch Guze’s comments on Carolina Journal Radio below.