staff editorial in The News & Observer stated the following regarding
the GOP's plan to push for an eminent domain constitutional amendment:
And is the use of eminent domain,
while not something to be encouraged, that big an issue in North Carolina? Not
that we've noticed. The U.S. Supreme Court case that created such an uproar a
couple of years ago involved the taking of property in Connecticut for economic
development, with private developers to benefit. That might be a bad idea, but
it's not happening here.
To answer their question: Yes, the use of eminent domain
is that big of an issue. Besides the wide
use of eminent domain, there are examples of shocking eminent domain abuse. For
example, the Triangle Transit Authority (TTA) took private property
for rail stations that at the time of the takings were definitely not going
to exist. Speculative takings should never be considered a proper public use.
The TTA was also trying to seize private property that would primarily
benefit a developer and using the non-existent need for rail stations as
the excuse to justify the takings.
There is the North Carolina case Piedmont Triad
Airport Authority v. Urbine, which held that private property could be
leased to Federal Express for the sole use of Federal Express -- this was a
taking for a private use. Also, there have been many takings using the
state's broad blight law. As I have shown, blight laws are the number one
way that governments seize private property for economic development --
"blight" is used merely as a pretext for economic development
Even apart from the clear instances of abuse, North Carolina has the weakest
constitutional protection in the country when it comes to eminent domain. The
North Carolina Constitution is the only constitution in the country that does
not have a takings clause (i.e., a provision that says private property may be
taken only for a public use with just compensation). By itself, that fact alone
justifies an amendment.
After the United States Supreme Court gave the green light to economic
development takings in Kelo v. City of New
London, there is nothing in the state constitution to protect North
Carolinians from these takings.
Currently, North Carolina can and does take private property for economic
development, using excuses such as blight. If the legislature decided to pass a
statute expressly allowing for economic development takings, there would be no
protections from such abuse.
This whole situation is akin to the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the First
Amendment and the N&O not wanting to amend the state constitution to
protect free speech. Such a scenario would be absurd. In such a case, the N&O
would surely be up in arms and rightfully demand that the legislature amend the
state constitution to protect against restraints on free speech. The same can
be said about the need for protection against eminent domain abuse. Both free
speech and property rights are fundamental rights entitled to the same level of
When the legislature comes back in session, an eminent domain amendment should
be a major priority, and the amendment should be drafted in a manner that protects
against all the eminent domain abuses that are prevalent in the state.
Courts Rule Harbor
Free At Last
The North Carolina Court of Appeals
has ruled the Marshallberg Harbor free and open to the public. Property owners
alongside the harbor sued for water access rights.
foes cheer GOP gains
Annexation opponents said they are
hopeful that the shift to the Republican Party in the N.C. Senate and N.C.
House will work in their favor.