Friday, December 07, 2007

Rezoning Could Limit Thousands of Raleigh Homeowners

From WRAL: Raleigh — A rezoning – mandated by the state and intended to protect a water supply – would limit the ways in which thousands of owners in north Raleigh could develop their property.Letters will be sent to about 7,300 property owners, and city planners met with a citizens' advisory group Thursday to explain the regulations. Those will make it more difficult to construct additions – even decks – to existing homes. more...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Locke Foundation: Turkey, NC takes on Property Owners

From The Locker Room.

Fayetteville: Businessman must pay for city’s error

From The Fayetteville Observer: Pete Porreco wanted everything to be perfect — and legal — for a tailored sign to showcase the new location of his remodeling business in western Fayetteville.

He called City Hall and said he wanted to put up the biggest sign he could on a stretch of Raeford Road. He then hired a contractor, who designed a plan that the city approved with a $40 permit.

The lighted sign, which stands 14 feet high on a pole, went up in mid-October at Porreco’s business, Home Exteriors. About two weeks later, a city inspector came knocking and served Porreco with a written notice that sickened and surprised him.

The sign was too big, the notice said. He had to remove it or face $500 daily fines. more...

Related: Myron Pitts column

Monday, November 26, 2007

Railroad stakes claim to its right of way on which ministry building sits

The News & Observer: Clayton Area Ministries volunteers were ecstatic three years ago when an anonymous benefactor gave them a building for their food pantry. It seemed a castle compared with the dilapidated, cramped quarters they had been renting.

Thanks to donors, the only payment the charity group faced with their new home was a monthly phone bill. Or so they thought. Then a representative of the state-owned N.C. Railroad told them half their building was sitting in its right of way. more...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Judge Says Couple Has to Leave Farm So County Can Expand Landfill

A Superior Court judge has ordered a Mount Airy couple to leave their 95-acre farm, ending a 10-year battle in which Surry County commissioners imposed eminent domain to purchase the property to expand the county landfill.

Judge Richard W. Stone ordered Donald and Faye Terrell to leave their farm by November 28. But Donald Terrell, 69, said he will not go. It's where he was born, he said. And though Surry County paid him $653,000 for it in March, it's worth much more. more...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Eminent domain: Onslow steps up

Editorial from the Jacksonville Daily News: Robin Hood, or so the legend says, took from the rich and gave to the poor. The fact that he did it by force made him no less of a folk hero because his actions benefited a grossly downtrodden class of individuals. The U.S. Supreme Court, as interpreted by a slim majority of its justices, did just the opposite in 2005 when it decided the case of Kelo v. New London. In that instance, the court chose to allow government to legally rob private property owners on behalf of private developers and businesses.

It's a terrible precedent that chips away at both the spirit and consequences of the law. more...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Biltmore Lake residents' lawsuit fights annexation by Asheville

From the Asheville Citizen-Times: Biltmore Lake residents have filed a lawsuit against the city of Asheville claiming it didn’t follow state law in seeking to annex the upscale subdivision. more...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Text of Onslow County resolution supporting property rights

We recently posted a link to this article from the Jacksonville Daily News: Onslow County Commissioners vote to support limits on use of eminent domain.

The full text of the resolution can be viewed here.

Missouri: Study Points to Continuing Eminent Domain Abuses

According to this article, studies have shown that legislation passed last year in Missouri has failed to address eminent domain abuse. According to the article, "The study concludes eminent domain abuse has had a negative impact on local communities, adding the abuses will only worsen until the Legislature passes a constitutional amendment strengthening property rights in Missouri."

Sounds like Missouri and North Carolina have something in common: each of our legislatures failed to pass a constitutional amendment to give property owners the protection they deserve, instead settling for watered-down legislation that doesn't cut the mustard.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Editorial from San Antonio: Approve proposal on eminent domain

San Antonio Express-News

As Texas continues to grow, the need for public land for infrastructure and projects will increase. With it, the use of eminent domain — the forced buying of private land for a public use — will also increase.

Proposition 7 would amend the Texas Constitution to allow a "taking entity" to offer land acquired through eminent domain back to the owner at the original sales price under certain conditions. more...

Onslow County Commissioners vote to support limits on use of eminent domain

From The Jacksonville Daily News: The Onslow County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Monday in favor of North Carolina joining an ever-increasing number of states that have enacted legislation prohibiting condemnation of private property for economic development.

In September, the board unanimously voted in support of the North Carolina General Assembly obtaining a constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of eminent domain - the right of a government to take private property for public benefit - for commercial use. more...

Charleston, WV: Officials say they will consider using eminent domain to expand Civic Center

From The Charleston Daily Mail: Officials say they will consider using eminent domain to expand Civic Center

Stanly County: Norwood looks at annexation during closed session

From The Stanly News & Free Press: Norwood looks at annexation during closed session

Monday, October 15, 2007

Center for Local Innovation's City/County Issue guide focuses on freedom

RALEIGH – Local governments can help their communities prosper by holding the line on taxes and fees, minimizing regulation, and avoiding the use of force against private property owners. Those are some key recommendations in the Center for Local Innovation’s new City and County Issue Guide 2007.

The guide arrives as some N.C. counties consider raising sales taxes or imposing a new land-transfer tax. “The common thread in these recommendations is freedom,” said CLI Director Chad Adams. “By increasing individual freedom, local governments can foster prosperity for all North Carolinians.”

The pocket-sized Issue Guide addresses more than a dozen topics common to North Carolina local governments. It covers services governments provide, the way they raise money, and the attention they pay to private property rights. John Locke Foundation researchers analyze each topic and offer recommendations.

For example, counties and municipalities do not need new ways to raise taxes, said Joseph Coletti, JLF Fiscal Policy Analyst. “North Carolina’s local governments all have two ways to tax their citizens: property taxes and sales taxes,” Coletti said. “Some have additional taxes, and they often charge separate fees for services such as water and sewer and solid waste removal. Local government already costs an average of $1,432 per person in North Carolina.”

Now many local governments want more tax options, Coletti said. ”Local governments have misused the money they now have,” he said. “In Wilmington, the city council has set aside money for a convention center while the sewer system leaks. Charlotte built a convention center and a short section of light rail instead of expanding road capacity.”

The Issue Guide warns local government against chasing the goal of “economic development” through wasteful convention centers, stadiums, and other non-essential projects. “Recently many North Carolina cities and counties have ignored the distinction between the public and private sector by funding outright or subsidizing functions that are inherently private,” said Dr. Michael Sanera, JLF Research Director and Local Government Analyst. ”City officials have poured millions of taxpayer dollars into nonessential city activities while essential services such as police, fire, and roads suffer.”

Some Issue Guide recommendations are simple. For instance, municipalities should avoid all forced annexation, said Daren Bakst, JLF Legal and Regulatory Policy Analyst.

“Municipalities use forced annexation as a financial bailout,” Bakst said. “Money from unincorporated areas boosts the municipal tax base. If an individual knows that he can always steal money from his neighbor in case of financial trouble, he will take inappropriate risks and make poor decisions. He can steal his way out of mistakes. The same is true for municipalities that use forced annexation.”

The new guide serves as a companion piece to CLI’s annual By The Numbers report, which ranks cities and counties by local government spending levels. “This new guide places the numbers in context,” Adams said. “Citizens concerned about local government spending can find ideas for improvement in the Issue Guide. Local leaders can also use the guide to help them avoid taking ever-larger chunks of our paychecks each year.”

The Center for Local Innovation’s “City and County Issue Guide 2007” is available at the JLF web site. For more information, please contact Adams at (919) 828-3876 or To arrange an interview, contact Mitch Kokai at (919) 306-8736 or

Excellent article on eminent domain and individual rights

This is a good column by George Mantor

Greensboro holding annexation meeting

From the City of Greensboro's Web Site:

As the City of Greensboro begins the annexation process, we know you have many questions about what annexation will mean to you. We invite you to browse this website to find answers to your questions.

The links on the left will take you to information about specific services, as well as general information about the City of Greensboro. You can also call (336) 373-CITY (2489) to speak with a City Services Representative who can answer your questions.

A public informational meeting is set for Thursday, October 25 at 7 pm in Grimsley High School Auditorium.
Parking is available off Campus Drive.
* If you need an interpreter or any other auxiliary aid or service, please contact Donna Gray at 336-373-2723.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lexington officials hear from residents about annexation

From the Winston-Salem Journal: More than 60 people came to a meeting of the Lexington City Council last night with a simple message - they don’t want to be annexed into the city. more...

US Landowners Challenge Canadian Company's Right to Eminent Domain

Canadian company wants to use eminent domain to build an 1,830-mile pipeline through the US from Canada, to Oklahoma... more...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mooneyham: Railroad is still bullying

Column by Scott Mooneyham of the Capitol Press Association: Railroad is still bullying

Lexington: Annexation opponents air their grievances

From The Lexington Dispatch: A standing room only crowd made up of upset homeowners voiced their anti-annexation arguments to the city council at Lexington City Hall on Monday night. more...

Elizabeth City: Most council candidates back eminent domain

From The Daily Advance: A majority of candidates for City Council believe the city should use eminent domain, if necessary, to acquire land for the $10.4 million aviation research and commerce park project.

“Yes, I think it is the greatest thing in our area,” said 1st Ward Councilwoman Betty Meggs, who is seeking a second term. “We have to think of what’s best for everyone.”

At issue is a privately owned 100-foot-wide parcel of farmland the city is trying to acquire for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Regional Airport Authority’s planned aviation park, estimated to create 500 jobs and generate $150 million for the local economy. The landowner, the Hall family, has refused to sell, and City Manager Rich Olson says he would use eminent domain to acquire the property if necessary. more...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lexington Annexation: City growth vs. property owner rights

From the Lexington Daily Dispatch: A group of annexation opponents is set to bring a petition of more than 1,000 names of like-minded residents to the Lexington City Council meeting Monday, protesting the city’s consideration to annex 11 areas around the city. more...

Builders Lose N.J. Eminent Domain Fight

From Builders were dealt a blow this week when the U.S. Supreme Court opted not to hear a case in which New Jersey builder MiPro Homes claimed the township of Mt. Laurel, N.J., unlawfully seized a 16-acre parcel that was under site development and had been legally zoned and approved for construction. more...

Pasquotank Board postpones letter to protest eminent domain

From The Daily Advance: Pasquotank’s Board of Commissioners agreed Monday night to postpone adopting a resolution and letter that protest “any eminent domain takeover” by the city of land for its $10.4 million aviation park project. more...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Annexation still affects local races in Fayetteville

NEWS14: Citizens who were annexed into the city of Fayetteville in 2005 will have the chance to vote for their representatives next week.

Both District 6 and 8 comprise residents who were brought into the city two years ago, although the majority live in District 8, which is home to incumbent Juanita Gonzalez. Gonzalez is finishing her third term on the city council and now faces opposition from two political newcomers: Ted Mohn and Charles Ragan who both became city residents after the annexation. more...

Bakst: Another government land-grab

From Carolina Journal: Wake County's Open Space Bond

Op/ed in N&O: Another government land-grab

From NoLandGrab: City Planner Calls Eminent Domain Condemnees "Hostages"

City Planner Calls Eminent Domain Condemnees "Hostages"

Zell Miller Quote on Property Ownership

"The opportunity to own what we're willing to work for is a pillar of our democracy. It is so ingrained in our American experience that we can hardly imagine otherwise. But rest assured there are people in this world who can only dream of owning anything. At the heart of communism was the notion that the state owned everything the people produced. The government managed production, owned the yield, and dispersed it with the grand kind of wisdom that led to the erection of the Berlin Wall. The wall is now a gravel pile, and so is the thinking that constructed it."
- Former U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) in his book, "A Deficit of Decency"

Friday, October 05, 2007

Commentary: Minority areas hit hardest by eminent domain

Commentary by Clarence Page, published in The Chicago Tribune:

A father and son who operate a nonprofit boxing gym for kids in suburban San Diego are fighting their town for the right to stay where they are. Ultimately, their battle to hold onto their property could help decide your right to hold onto yours. more...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mt. Airy candidates debate annexation

The Mount Airy News reports that annexation was among the issues recently debated by municipal candidates. From the Oct. 3 article:

The candidates also differed on annexation, which has been a controversial issue due to residents recently being forced into the city limits.

Cochran pointed out that only four states, including North Carolina, now allow forced annexation. She mentioned one case in which a local woman is having to rely on subsidized government housing because she can't afford the higher taxes and utility hookups resulting from annexation of her home. “I am not in favor of forced annexation,” Cochran said.

One of Cochran's opponents, Sickmiller, took a similar position. “There are a lot of things that are legal to do,” she said, but that doesn't mean they have to be done. She also wonders whether the tax money generated from annexed communities adequately offsets the related expenses. “I don't believe in forced annexation if it's only for the money.”

Said Brown: “I think there should be many independent studies done before you annex an area.” Saying numerous factors should be considered, he added, “I am not in favor of off-the-wall annexation at any time.” He thinks major annexations should be studied at least 10 years before being approved, although he said individual property owners who are willing to pay for city services should be allowed to join the municipality. “It doesn't have to be hundreds of people.”

While he said it was not fair for non-city residents to use Mount Airy services without paying extra, Livengood said he understands why some people want to live outside the municipality, possibly because of quieter neighborhoods or lower taxes.

Lowry said that annexation should be undertaken on a case-by-case basis, and only where economically feasible. “We're about annexed out,” he said.

“The greatest need we have in Mount Airy is fiscal management,” he said. “We are on the verge of a fiscal train wreck.”

Harris was the only candidate who supports an aggressive annexation approach, saying that cities have to offer a certain population to be considering by companies wanting to locate facilities to a community. Otherwise, the city will be passed over, the incumbent said.

SPIN Cycle: What’s up with the North Carolina Railroad?

From today's SPIN Cycle newsletter (published by NC SPIN):

What’s up with the North Carolina Railroad?
That’s a question many are asking after the state-owned railroad came trying to collect rent on businesses that are located close to their rail lines. According to NC RR officials, 150 years of surveying errors and lack of oversight have prevented them from collecting rent on lands they legally own and within their 200-foot right of way.

They say they have signed more than 230 leases for their lands and that another 120 or so are yet to be negotiated. Affected small business owners are understandably upset when a representative of the NC RR walks in and claims they owe rent to the state rail line.

Look for court cases and legislative action regarding these collection efforts.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blogger: How do you reconcile urban planning and private property rights?

We stumbled across this blog entry earlier today: How do you reconcile urban planning and private property rights?

It is an excellent read.

Stanly County: Norwood annexation troubling community

Norwood annexation troubling community

Eminent Domain Could Arise In Sugar Creek, MO

Sugar Creek may be the battleground for another fight involving eminent domain.Some residents near Sterling and Smart avenues said they are being forced out of their homes by City Hall in favor of developers. more...

Apex Votes to Control 9,000 Acres Next Door

From Apex Votes to Control 9,000 Acres Next Door

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Charlotte Observer: Landowners feel railroaded

Concord auto mechanic Frank Abernethy, struggling to run his small business, was caught off guard by the unannounced visit from the railroad agent.

It was early August when the employee from the state-owned N.C. Railroad Co. showed up at his garage and demanded he sign a lease for $1,200 a year in rent and fees. He also said Abernethy needed $1 million in insurance because his shop sits too close to the tracks.

Even though the mechanic bought the property in 2005, the railroad says it technically owns his land -- and has 19th-century deeds as proof.

"Nobody told me that when I bought the building," Abernethy said this week. "I told the guy, `What are you trying to do, put me out of business?' "

The railroad says there are hundreds of other property owners like Abernethy along its 317-mile line from Charlotte to Morehead City. One day, the company could try to reclaim the disputed parcels. But for now, the railroad just wants rent, said Scott Saylor, railroad president.

It's part of the railroad's push to take back and manage its right of way -- the 200-foot-wide buffer along the tracks. more...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

John Locke Foundation Report: Eminent Domain in N.C. -- The Case for Real Reform

John Locke Foundation Report: Eminent Domain in N.C. -- The Case for Real Reform

Background on Eminent Domain and Kelo

  • Eminent domain refers to the government’s power to seize private property without the consent of owners.

  • In 2005, the United States Supreme Court, in the now infamous case of Kelo v. City of New London, held that the government could seize private property solely for economic development reasons. For example, if a house can generate more tax revenue as a strip mall, then the government can seize the house and transfer it to a strip mall developer.

What Other States Have Done
  • Seven states have already passed constitutional amendments to protect against eminent domain abuse, include neighboring states such as Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

  • In Nevada, the voters overwhelmingly approved a new amendment but it requires passage in two consecutive general elections to become law.

  • When a state brings up an eminent domain amendment to the voters, which does not also try to address regulatory takings, the voters overwhelmingly pass the amendment.

What North Carolina Has Done
  • The House Select Committee on Eminent Domain Powers developed a watered down interim report in 2006 and was supposed to meet after the short session to address just compensation and other critical issues. For no apparent reason, it never met again.

  • The legislature passed a bill in 2006 that deleted provisions in existing law that expressly allowed for economic development takings. However, the legislature was not willing, in legislation, to expressly prohibit all economic development takings. In addition, the bill amended the state’s urban redevelopment (blight) law.

Why North Carolina Needs a Constitutional Amendment
  • North Carolina’s constitution has the weakest property rights protections in the country. It is the only state in the country that does not have an express constitutional provision that limits the taking of private property for a public use with just compensation.

  • State legislation is the only thing coming between North Carolinians and the government’s ability to take private property for economic development or any other reason. When legislation can be changed at the whim of political interests, this is far from adequate protection.

Limit Takings to a Proper “Public Use”
  • A constitutional amendment should only permit property to be taken for what has traditionally been understood to be a public use. Those reasons generally are not different from what North Carolina now allows in the state’s eminent domain statute.

  • Proper takings include property taken for use by the government or use by the general public. It also should include takings for utilities and common carriers in their role to provide services to the general public, and to protect against blighted property.

  • The blight justification for taking property must be very narrow in scope. If not, a constitutional amendment could actually be worse than the eminent domain abuse it is trying to solve. It should only mean taking property to protect the public from a clear and direct harm to the public’s health and safety that is caused by that parcel of property.

  • All takings for any private use should be prohibited (except for public utilities and common carriers, as explained above).

Protect Against the “Blight” Excuse
  • It is critical to understand that most eminent domain abuse has not come from blatant economic development takings, but instead through the abuse of blight laws.

  • It is almost impossible to demonstrate that a taking is really for economic development reasons, as opposed to addressing some overbroad definition of blight.

  • There is a “reverse Robin-Hood effect” when it comes to blight laws. The government takes private property from the poor to give to the wealthy.

Provide “Just” Compensation
  • The House Select Committee on Eminent Domain Powers had drafted a bill that identified a way to better compensate eminent domain victims

  • Many of the compensation issues that need to be addressed in a constitutional amendment are consistent with the compensation issues that the Committee identified in its interim report.

  • Generally, just compensation has meant fair market value.

  • Just compensation should be “just.” It should make eminent domain victims “whole.” This means that they should be put in the same position that they would have been in had their property not been taken.

Create a Fair Process for Eminent Domain Victims
  • The government always should have the burden of proof in all eminent domain proceedings.

  • The government should have the burden of proof to demonstrate that a taking of a specific piece of property is clearly necessary for the public use espoused and that no reasonable alternatives exist.

Bottom Line
  • An eminent domain amendment is a bipartisan issue, as seen by the wide support for recent eminent domain amendments even in North Carolina. Only politics and the desire to protect governmental interests will explain why a properly drafted amendment is not enacted.

Download PDF file: Eminent Domain in N.C.: The Case for Real Reform (701 k)

Annexed area pays police taxes twice

The Charlotte Observer

When residents of the Shannamara neighborhood got their tax bills last month, a few realized something strange: They'd been billed for police services in both Mecklenburg County and Stallings. Now, there may be nothing they can do about it. more...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

City of Toledo invokes eminent domain for mall

Toledo Free Press

The City of Toledo's proposed use of eminent domain for taking the Southwyck Mall properties for redevelopment will be the subject of a public hearing on Sept. 24. The issue of eminent domain became official with a resolution presented to City Council Sept. 18.

The resolution (603-07), calling for the use of eminent domain for the roadway extension at Southwyck Mall, was discussed and held for the next Council meeting on Oct. 2, due to the hearing, according to City Council Clerk Gerald Dendinger.

Eminent domain for Southwyck is the topic for the Environmental, Utilities and Public Service Committee meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. Sept. 24 in City Council chambers. The public is invited to attend and voice its opinion on the proposed use of eminent domain.

City Council member Rob Ludeman said eminent domain is a tool the City of Toledo can use to get Bill Dillard and Buddy Hering, who own parcels at Southwyck, to complete the deal with Larry Dillin, president of Dillin Corporation. more...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Forced Annexation in Selma, NC?

An interesting read from a local blogger in Selma, N.C.

Delaware state legislators seek to protect property rights

From the Cape Gazette:

Two state representatives say they’ll be working over the next several months on legislation to protect the property rights of all Delawareans.

State representatives Greg Hastings, R-Millsboro, and Dennis Williams, D-Wilmington, recently announced a cooperative effort that’ll use the resources of the Institute for Justice, the Delaware Bar Association and the state House of Representatives to craft a bill to shield private property owners from unwarranted governmental takings.

The issue has most recently surfaced in Wilmington, where city officials have threatened to use their power of eminent domain to seize as many as 62 properties as part of the next phase of the South Walnut Street Urban Renewal Plan. As many as 38 working businesses could be displaced if their properties are condemned by the city. Under the plan, the land would then be sold to private developers for use in high-end residential and commercial projects.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Landowners threatened by eminent domain abuse

The Courier-Post

Some of what is taking place throughout the United States is surprising. Take for example, the legally authorized abuse of eminent domain. more...

Property owners: We'll fight for land rights

Property rights advocates said Tuesday they are ready for a court fight to defend a 2006 law that reduced local governments' right to seize property.

The test case may be in Osceola in southern Iowa, where local governments may attempt to seize farmland to make way for a reservoir.

"This lake project is about development and money under the guise of Osceola's water needs," said Cindy Sanford, whose farm may be taken for the project.

Sanford and other property owners spoke at a Statehouse news conference, joined by Reps. Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton, Jodi Tymeson, R-Winterset, and former Rep. Ed Fallon, D-Des Moines.

Kaufmann said there will be a two-pronged effort, one to fight for property rights in court and one to strengthen the 2006 law in the next legislative session. He said the law seemed adequate until "some knowledgeable lawyers found some loopholes." more...

Moore County: Pinewild Files Suit to Block Annexation

Southern Pines Pilot

A group of Pinewild residents have filed a lawsuit attempting to block the village of Pinehurst's planned annexation of the gated country club community.

Pinewild Project Limited Partnership, the company that owns Pinewild, is among the plaintiffs.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007 Eminent Domain Becomes Common in Developments

Eminent Domain Becomes Common in Developments

CA: Council to vote on land theft for “redevelopment”

CA: Council to vote on land theft for “redevelopment”

Iowa Lawmakers Call for Property Protections

DES MOINES, Iowa — Lawmakers and landowners called Tuesday for tightening a state law guarding property rights, warning that developers and officials are using a loophole to push for a new lake project that would flood dozens of Clarke County properties.

Two legislators said they would try to add new restrictions to a property rights law approved by the Legislature last year over the veto of then-Gov. Tom Vilsack.

"It really is important for lawmakers to stand up for landowners because Iowans just fundamentally believe it's wrong for government to take people's land and their homes and their farms for economic development," Rep. Jodi Tymeson, R-Winterset, said at a Statehouse news conference. more...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lawsuit puts Tryon’s annexation on hold

From the Tryon Daily Bulletin

Leah Justice and Chris Dailey
September 14, 2007

The recently filed lawsuit against Tryon’s annexation automatically puts the town’s expansion on hold, and it could take a few years to resolve the case in court, according to David Lawrence of the N.C. Institute of Government.

Lawrence, considered a leading authority on annexation in the state, responded to questions from the Bulletin this week. He said the lawsuit, filed by 136 petitioners representing 88 properties (see list of names on page 15) in Polk County Superior Court in August, creates an automatic stay of the annexation.


Eminent domain plans not always successful


When a developer devised a plan in early 2006 to turn Little Ferry's drab industrial area into a 12-acre, tax-generating waterfront, the concept appeared enticing.

A hotel along with restaurants, retail shops, condos, office space and parkland would replace an abandoned pipe company and several underused commercial sites along the Hackensack River.

But the plan created an uproar among residents because it called for designating the area blighted and condemning several homes and small businesses through eminent domain.

The project was shelved within a month.


Adding Insult to Injury: City Sues Victims of Eminent Domain Abuse

Eminent Domain Victim Victimized By Rock Hill Again

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Homeowner: Cary Wants My Land for Performing Arts Center


Homeowner: Cary Wants My Land for Performing Arts Center

Marilyn and Marvin Goldman have spent the past 11 years living in a downtown Cary condo, but their home might be in jeopardy.The town of Cary wants to build a performing arts center and a parking deck at the northeast Corner of Dry Avenue and Academy Street. The problem is, the Goldman's home and 18 other properties are in the way.

“They’re going to bulldoze this,” Marilyn said. "It’s not my house they want. It’s my land they want.”
Blogger: N.C. Property Rights Watch - Create Post

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Column by Daren Bakst - Protecting Property Rights

From The News & Observer

RALEIGH - Pick any state other than North Carolina and you'll find much greater protection of property rights. Yet when the state House recently attempted to address two major property rights issues -- eminent domain and forced annexation -- there was one huge obstacle in the way: the state Senate. more...

Excellent Article: Abuse of eminent domain threatens us

Abuse of eminent domain threatens us - by Sarah Overstreet

Anybody here who, when you were studying high school civics, thought the concept of eminent domain meant the government could take your private property — a house, a couple dogs and a goat or a profitable shopping center — to plop a mega-super-duper big-box store where you used to be?

If you did, you obviously read more into it that I did. I learned it was the right of government to take property for public use. Public "use," for the good of the public, for government to serve the public through government projects: roads, courthouses, police stations, post offices — not public profit for the benefit of a city getting a bigger pot of tax dollars for city use. After their experiences in Britain, one of the rights our founding fathers and first residents held most dear was the right of private property ownership. more...

Businesses Fight Eminent Domain Plans in Wilmington, DE

This article outlines the efforts of some business owners in Wilmington, DE to fight the city's plan to take their property using eminent domain laws.

Eminent Domain in Hays, KS - Just Compensation?

According to this article, the City of Hays, Kansas is considering exercising eminent domain to condemn Jude's Piano and Organ Co., 2200 Canterbury, to begin a $2.4 million project that will connect Canterbury to Commerce Parkway via 22nd Street.

From the article: "Property owner Judith "Jude" Scheck said the offer is not adequate. 'The initial offer is still standing at $63 per foot,' she said. 'I cannot find a contractor that will build for $63 a foot.' She said contractors have told her it costs $135 per foot to build residential buildings."

Shallotte Point Residents Proactive in Defending Property Rights

Residents of the Shallotte Point community have been proactive in standing up for their private property rights.

From the Wilmington Star News: "About 400 residents in Shallotte Point signed a petition in May opposing legislation that would have allowed residents in the area and others near Shallotte to request annexation into the town without going through the required steps of getting approval from other nearby jurisdictions."

Click here for the article

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

News 14 Carolina's Coverage of Eminent Domain Press Conference

News 14 Carolina was among the media outlets that covered last week's press conference. Click here to read their article and watch the video of their television report.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Listen to today's press conference online

Audio of today's press conference is available online by clicking here.

N.C. Property Rights Coalition calls on Senate Leadership to Bring Eminent Domain Amendment Up for a Vote

HB 878 Stuck in Committee that Last Met in 2001

RALEIGH – The N.C. Property Rights Coalition held a press conference today to call on the N.C. Senate leadership to bring the eminent domain amendment (HB 878) to the floor for a vote. Speakers at the press conference included House Minority Leader Paul Stam, Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, Dallas Woodhouse of Americans for Prosperity, Joyce Krawiec of FreedomWorks and Kieran Shanahan, Chairman of the N.C. Property Rights Coalition. Property rights supporters from as far away as Asheville attended the press conference, which was held in front of the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

The bill, which passed the N.C. House by a vote of 104-15 on May 24, would prevent government entities from seizing private property for economic development purposes. On May 29, HB 878 was referred to the N.C. Senate Ways and Means Committee – a committee that has not met since 2001. The committee is chaired by Senator Charlie Dannelly of Mecklenburg County.

“Poll results have shown that 73% of North Carolina voters would support an amendment to the state constitution to limit government’s ability to seize our property[1],” says Kieran Shanahan, Chairman of the N.C. Property Rights Coalition. “The people of North Carolina clearly want an amendment to protect their private property from eminent domain abuse. Unfortunately, rather than taking action, the leadership in the North Carolina Senate chose to bury this amendment in a committee that has not met since 2001. The people of North Carolina deserve better.”

“Today, on behalf of property owners all across North Carolina, I call on the leadership in the North Carolina Senate to bring the eminent domain amendment to the floor for an immediate vote,” Shanahan adds. “Private property rights are one of the fundamental rights of a free society. We don’t need excuses or political games; we need to give the people of North Carolina the right to vote on this amendment, and we need to do it now.”

[1] John William Pope Civitas Institute, August 2005

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bakst: The Point of an Eminent Domain Amendment

From The Locker Room (by Daren Bakst):

As the Senate continues to ignore the will of the public by not considering the eminent domain constitutional amendment, there finally appears to be some legislators calling for some action.

In this AP article, there is a discussion of the current status of the amendment. A line in the article grabbed my attention: (click here for more...)

Eminent Domain Amendment Backers Seek Action by N.C. Senate


Supporters of a constitutional amendment to further restrict land condemnation by local and state governments in North Carolina want the Senate to consider the legislation before this year's legislative session ends.

For seven weeks, the eminent domain legislation has been parked in a Senate committee that hasn't held a public meeting since 2001, Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger said Tuesday. The House approved the bipartisan bill in May, and the issue would go to voters this fall if the bill is approved by the Senate.

Click here for the rest of the article

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Press Conference Thursday

We are hosting a press conference this Thursday to call on the Senate leadership to bring HB 878 (the eminent domain amendment) to the floor for a vote. Details are here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Eminent Domain Amendment Sent Away to Die?

On May 24, the eminent domain amendment (HB 878) passed the NC House by a vote of 104-15. On May 29, the bill was referred to the N.C. Senate's Ways & Means Committee. It has not been acted on since.

Today, I called the office of Sen. Charlie Dannelly, Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, and asked when the Ways & Means Committee last met. His assistant's answer: 2001.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Annexation passions boil over

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

RALEIGH — Some 200 people from Asheville to Wilmington who filled an auditorium Wednesday at the General Assembly sent lawmakers a message that while they may have put off a decision on annexation, the issue isn’t going away.

Lawmakers might even have to vote on it.

After the public hearing, Rep. Charles Thomas said he would make another attempt to stop cities from unilaterally annexing surrounding neighborhoods. more...

N&O: Homeowners hiss annexation law

From The News & Observer:

Homeowners from around the state booed at mayors and hissed at suit-wearing honchos Wednesday as they met in Raleigh to talk annexation.

The two sides clashed during a hearing before state lawmakers on a proposal to study North Carolina's controversial annexation law. The law has sparked remarkable vitriol in homeowners' hearts for decades because it allows municipalities to annex their land without the homeowners' permission. more...

Public Seeks Fairer Annexation Rules

From the Winston-Salem Journal:

Residents from across North Carolina asked state legislators last night to modify the state law that allows cities to engage in involuntary annexation.

North Carolina is one of a handful of states that allow involuntary annexation - a practice by which a city acquires new property and new tax-paying residents even if the affected residents do not wish to join the city. more...

Pinehurst Forcibly Annexes Community

[WRAL] - The Village Council voted unanimously Friday to annex the Pinewild community.

Pinewild, a gated golf course community developed in the 1980s, fought the annexation for months. Many of the residents said they believe Pinehurst just wants the tax revenue they would generate. more...

Report: Forced Annexation is Undemocratic and Harmful To Minority Communities

This article, published on the Carolina Journal Online, gives an insight to the harms of forced annexation.

Forced Annexation Song & Dance

This article was published earlier this week in The Locker Room.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Legislative Public Hearing on Annexation Set for June 13

The following meeting notice was distributed via e-mail yesterday:

2007-2008 SESSION

The House Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House will hold a Public Hearing

Day & Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Time: 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Location: Legislative Auditorium

Comments: Pursuant to House Rule 29.1, the chair of the House Rules Committee announces a public hearing to consider a Proposed Committee Substitute for HB 86, Study Municipal Annexation. Persons desiring to appear and be heard shall submit their requests by Tuesday, June 12, to Representative Paul Luebke, Room 529, Legislative Office Building. Also, persons who wish to submit a brief written statement of testimony without oral presentation may, by Tuesday, June 12, submit these statements to Representative Paul Luebke.


Sponsors: Representatives Thomas and Goforth.

Representative Owens, Chair

I hereby certify this notice was filed by the rules clerk at the following offices at 2:15 o’clock p.m. on June 05, 2007.

X Principal Clerk

X Reading Clerk - House Chamber

Dot Crocker (Rules Clerk)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Eminent Domain in N.C.: The Case for Real Reform

The John Locke Foundation recently released a report on eminent domain in North Carolina.

House bill would authorize an annexation study commission

According to this article from, a House bill would authorize a study commission to analyze North Carolina's current annexation laws. From the article: "Just when it looked like the more than a dozen bills dealing with involuntary annexation were dead, one still has life."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dome: All Five Candidates for Governor Support Eminent Domain Amendment

The News & Observer's Under the Dome blog has been posting a series of entries outlining where the various candidates for governor stand on the eminent domain amendment and other key issues. According to Dome, all five probable major candidates for governor support the eminent domain amendment:

Richard Moore - supports eminent domain amendment
Beverly Perdue - supports eminent domain amendment

Bill Graham - supports eminent domain amendment
Bob Orr - supports eminent domain amendment
Fred Smith - supports eminent domain amendment

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

Status of Eminent Domain Amendment

The eminent domain amendment (House Bill 878) that passed the N.C. House last week was referred to the Senate Ways & Means Committee on May 29. The committee members are listed below.

Chairman: Sen. Charlie S. Dannelly.

Vice Chairman:
Sen. David F. Weinstein.

Sen. Charles W. Albertson
Sen. Austin M. Allran
Sen. Bob Atwater
Sen. James Forrester
Sen. Fletcher L. Hartsell, Jr.
Sen. David W. Hoyle
Sen. Neal Hunt
Sen. Clark Jenkins
Sen. John H. Kerr III
Sen. Vernon Malone
Sen. A. B Swindell

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Annexation limit bill stalls

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Lawmakers wanting to limit city annexation powers acknowledged Wednesday their legislation likely would fail to clear the General Assembly this year.

But they will try to salvage the cause by submitting the issue for study.

Click for the rest of the article

Friday, May 25, 2007

Interesting coverage of the Eminent Domain Amendment

Click here for notes from Becki Gray's live coverage of the debate on HB 878. This is interesting.

Last-minute effort to spike eminent domain amendment fails

Under the Dome: Eminent Amendment Imminent?

Exciting News from Last Night

Growth Matters: A Good Day for Property Rights

Eminent Domain Amendment Passes NC House, Heads to NC Senate

From N.C. House Republican Leader Paul Stam:

Raleigh – Just in time to meet “crossover” requirements, the North Carolina House has given final approval to a state constitutional amendment protecting private property. House Bill 878 would place the amendment on the ballot for voter approval during the next statewide election and would protect owners from having private property condemned by state and local governments for anything other than a “public use.”

Pressure to add limitations on the state’s power of “Eminent Domain” reached a critical point in 2005 with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. New London, Connecticut. In Kelo, the Court ruled the city of New London had the right to condemn private homes to resell to another private owner who offered economic development and a larger tax base. Kelo has inspired stronger protections nationwide for private property and also for a clear reading by the courts of the Fifth Amendment to United States Constitution, among the Bill of Rights, which reads in part: No person deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The bill has enjoyed strong bipartisan support, sponsored by Democratic former Speaker Dan Blue (D-Wake), House Republican Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake), Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Rep. Jim Harrell, III, (D-Allegheny), and was co-sponsored by 96 members of the North Carolina House. After surviving repeated attempts to gut the bill, the proposed constitutional referendum was approved by the House on a final vote of 104 to 15, Thursday.

The text of the proposed addition to North Carolina’s Constitution reads:

“Private property shall not be taken except for a public use, including preservation for that use. Public use does not include the taking of property for the purpose of thereafter conveying an interest in the property to a third party for economic development. This paragraph does not apply to the taking of blighted properties as defined by general law, nor to takings for access by the owner to property. As used in this paragraph, blight includes only the physical condition of the property taken. Just compensation shall be paid and, if demanded by the owner, shall be determined by a jury.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Eminent Domain Amendment on House Calendar for Today!

We have good news to report: House Bill 878 (the eminent domain amendment) is on the House calendar for today!

Please contact your House member and tell them to support this important bill. According to the calendar the House is scheduled to convene at 1:45 p.m. today.

Click here to find out which House district you reside in

Contact info for N.C. House Members

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eminent Domain Amendment Finally on Committee's Calendar

This post from The Locker Room provides us with an update on the status of the eminent domain amendment. The entry, posted by Becki Gray, says the following:

"It (HB 878) was on the calendar for the House Judiciary Committee (after several days of input from many interested parties, including JLF, resulting in a newly drafted proposed committee substitute). The committee met for an hour, considered and voted on about eight other bills on the calendar. The committee adjourned before taking up the eminent domain bill. It has to pass the House before Thursday night at midnight. They will reconvene after.'" session to continue their work. Chairman Dan Blue (D-Wake) said at the end of the meeting, 'We may vote on anything between now and the cross over deadline.'"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jacksonville Daily News: We Need Eminent Domain Amendment

This editorial from Saturday's Jacksonville Daily News calls for an amendment to the state constitution to prevent eminent domain abuse.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

News Release: Eminent Domain Amendment Moved to Sponsor's Committee

The following is a news release from Rep. Paul Stam, minority leader in the N.C. House:

Raleigh - On Tuesday, May 15, the Eminent Domain Constitutional Amendment was finally re-referred to the House Judiciary II Committee, chaired by former Speaker Dan Blue (D-Wake), one of the primary sponsors.

Other primary sponsors are Reps. Paul Stam (R-Wake), Jim Harrell (D-Surry) and David Lewis (R-Harnett). As co-sponsors, 92 House members also signed onto the bill in March. Re-referral of the amendment from the Rules Committee to Blue's Judiciary II Committee brought hope to supporters of the proposal.

"It will finally receive a hearing and a vote before next Tuesday's Crossover Deadline," Stam said, the date when most legislation must pass either the House or Senate to be eligible for consideration in the other chamber.

If approved by the General Assembly and the voters in a statewide election November 6.

In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Kelo v. New London, Connecticut that local government could condemn private property and transfer it to someone else for economic development, and the hue and cry around the county spread like wildfire. Polls show 80 to 90 percent disapprove of the decision.

The constitutional amendment would reverse the infamous Kelo decision for North Carolina by disallowing condemnation in such case. It would require prompt payment of just compensation and a trial by jury in all condemnation actions as a matter of constitutional right.

The proposed amendment reads:

"Private property shall not be taken except for a public use. Public use does not include the taking of property for the purpose of economic development. The previous sentence does not apply to the taking of property which is blighted as defined by general law. Just compensation shall be promptly paid and, if demanded by the owner, shall be determined by a jury. Nothing in the previous sentence affects transfer of title pending final judgment on the amount of damages if the condemnor has deposited with the court for distribution to the owner its good faith estimate of just compensation, as provided by general law."

N.C. DOT vs. The Wilkinsons (Eminent Domain)

This is an interesting read from Brian Pate's Real Estate Blog.

Eminent Domain Amendment Moved Out of Rules Committee

We have good news to report: House Bill 878 (the eminent domain amendment) was moved from the Rules committee to the Judiciary II Committee on May 15. The J-II Committee is chaired by Rep. Dan Blue (D-Wake), one of the primary sponsors of HB 878.

We will keep you posted on the bill's status.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Locke Foundation study: N.C. has weakest property rights protection in nation

According to a report released by the John Locke Foundation, the N.C. Constitution has the nation’s weakest property rights protection.

Click here for an article outlining the release of the report

Click here for a copy of the report

The JLF report makes the case for a constitutional amendment to protect against these types of takings and other eminent-domain abuses.

Opposition to Forced Annexation Rises

This is an interesting article from The News & Observer.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

UPDATE: HB 878 Still Not on Rules Committee's Agenda

Below is the agenda for tomorrow's meeting of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. As you can see, HB 878 (the eminent domain amendment) is still not on the committee's agenda.

2007-2008 SESSION

You are hereby notified that the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House will meet as follows:

DAY & DATE: Thursday, May 10, 2007

TIME: 5:00 p.m. or upon recess

LOCATION: Speaker's Conference Room LB

COMMENTS: The following bills will be considered:


HB 1465 - Fibromyalgia Awareness Day - Representative Weiss, Representative Luebke, Representative Glazier, Representative Blue

HB 1555 - Property Tax Commission Terms - Representative Owens, Jr.

HB 1556 - 2007 Speaker's Appointments - Representative Owens, Jr.

HJR 1876 - Hillsborough Hog Day 25th Anniversary - Representative Faison, Representative Insko

Respectfully, Representative Owens, Chair

I hereby certify this notice was filed by the committee assistant at the following offices at 10:15 a.m. o’clock on May 09, 2007.
X Principal Clerk
X Reading Clerk – House Chamber

Dot Crocker (Rules Clerk)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Rally Against Forced Annexation on May 9

A number of organizations are sponsoring a rally against forced annexation. The rally will be held May 9 at the legislature. Here are the details from

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

HB 878 NOT Discussed at Yesterday's Rules Committee Meeting

I just spoke with Dot Crocker, the Rules Committee Clerk (the committee is chaired by Rep. Bill Owens). HB 878 (the eminent domain amendment) was NOT discussed at yesterday's Rules Committee meeting.

When asked if the bill would be discussed at the next meeting, she said, "I don't know, I haven't been given the agenda. I don't even know when the next meeting is. They are called meetings, not regular meetings."

We encourage you to contact legislative leaders and members of the Rules Committee and tell them that HB 878, the eminent domain amendment, needs to be brought to the floor for a vote.

- NCPRC Staff

Thursday, April 26, 2007

HB 878 (Eminent Domain Amendment) NOT on Rules Committee's Agenda for May 1

The House Rules Committee -- the one in which House Bill 878 (eminent domain amendment) is stuck -- is meeting on May 1. Their agenda, as distributed via e-mail by Rules Clerk Dot Crocker this morning, is below. As you can see, HB 878 is not on the agenda for the meeting, lending further credence to the idea that the legislative leadership is intent on killing this amendment without allowing to to come to the floor for a vote.


2007-2008 SESSION

You are hereby notified that the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House will meet as follows:

DAY & DATE: Tuesday, May 1, 2007

TIME: 12:30 p.m.


COMMENTS: The following bills will be considered:

HB 1341 Thalian Assoc./NC Community Theatre. Representative McComas Representative Justice Representative Wright

HJR 1437 Honor Town of Goldston. Representative Love, Sr.

HJR 1796 Observe Real Estate Commission's Anniversary. Representative Howard Representative Owens, Jr. Representative Brubaker Representative Goforth

SJR 1035 April as Landscape Architect Month. Senator Queen


Representative Owens, Chair

I hereby certify this notice was filed by the committee assistant at the following offices at 12:15 p.m.o’clock on April 26, 2007.

X Principal Clerk
X Reading Clerk – House Chamber

Dot Crocker (Rules Clerk)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Act Today: Tell the Legislative Leadership to bring HB 878 up for a vote

The following is the text of an email from Kieran Shanahan, Chairman of the N.C. Property Rights Coalition:

If you share my belief that private property is a fundamental right of Americans, please take action TODAY.

On March 15, a bipartisan bill to protect our private property from unjust seizure by governments was introduced in the N.C. House. Four days later this bill, HB 878, was referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. It is still stuck in that committee.

House Bill 878 has a total of 96 sponsors and co-sponsors. This means that 80% of House members have signed onto this legislation. 80% of House members have sponsored HB 878 -- and yet the legislative leadership has not brought it to the floor for a vote.

Please take action TODAY by contacting key House leaders.Please contact the legislative leaders below and tell them House Bill 878 deserves a vote on the House floor. Please be respectful and professional as you exercise your right to make your voice heard. Click on the House member's name for a link that includes their contact information. You can contact them via e-mail, phone, and/or U.S. Mail.

Rep. Joe Hackney, Speaker of the House

Rep. Bill Owens, Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. Rep. Owens is listed as a co-sponsor of HB 878.

Rep. Rick Glazier.
Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.

Rep. Dewey Hill.
Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. Rep. Hill is listed as a co-sponsor of HB 878.

Rep. Paul Luebke.
Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.

Rep. Deborah Ross.
Vice Chair of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

Click here for a complete list of committee members, with links to their contact information.

Please take action TODAY by c
ontacting your House member: Use the links below to find out which district you are in and obtain your representative's contact information. Contact them and tell them to tell Speaker Hackney that House Bill 878 deserves a vote on the House floor.

The House leadership would have us believe that a legislative solution is good enough to protect our private property rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Legislatures change, and a legislative solution can easily be changed by those elected in the future. We need a constitutional amendment that will stand the test of time. Simply put, our private property rights are too important to trust to the whims of future legislators.

Please take action TODAY and make your voice heard.

As citizens, we must unite to protect our private property rights. Now is the time to make your voice heard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Property Rights Bills -- Bottled Up in Committee?

It appears that the legislative leadership is again attempting to stop any efforts to allow North Carolinians to vote on an amendment to prevent eminent domain abuse. Eminent Domain amendments have been introduced in both chambers. Neither bill has come to a vote; they are stuck in committee.

The House version of the bill, HB 878, has 96 sponsors and co-sponsors. There are 120 members in the House, meaning that 80% of House Members have signed onto this legislation. 80% of House members have signed onto this bill, yet it has still not come up for a vote.

This is an important issue. Property rights are one of the fundamental rights of a free society. A supermajority of House members have signed onto this bill. It deserves to be heard.

Friday, April 13, 2007

N.C. Court of Appeals Amplified Annexation Ruling

From Carolina Journal Online:

Case involving Weddington elaborates on minimum services required

By Michael Lowrey
April 13, 2007

RALEIGH — In a recent ruling, the state’s second highest court upheld an annexation by the Union County town of Weddington, holding that the provision of increased police protection by itself is enough to allow for annexation.

The Weddington case amplified a landmark decision issued in early 2006, when the N.C. Supreme Court held that municipalities must provide actual services of benefit to landowners they wish to annex. The high court, however, didn’t define what qualified as the minimum services necessary to allow for annexation. more...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Vast Majority of House, including Democrats, Support Private Property Protection Amendment

Release from Rep. Paul Stam:

Republican leaders in the General Assembly chided the Democratic majority, Tuesday, for delays in considering a state constitutional amendment strictly limiting government power to take land for other than a “public purpose.”

“When there’s a consensus, that’s the time to act,” said House Republican Leader Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake). Ninety Six sponsors have signed on to House Bill 878, which would send offer voters an amendment to the constitution. Nationwide, the fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. New London, in 2005, has inspired states to reaffirm protections for private property by setting limits on eminent domain.

In Kelo, the High Court ruled, in certain cases, local governments can exercise eminent domain to seize private property and resell the land for a private purpose. House Bill 878 could restrict this practice in North Carolina and join other states in offering a jury trial in disputes.

In 2006, the General Assembly passed legislation to revoking a number of local exceptions granting a few cities the authority to exercise eminent domain for private purposes. Stam said the lack of constitutional limits would inevitably lead to attempts to grant similar exceptions again, “one year or four years from now.”

House Bill 878 has ninety-six of one hundred twenty House Members as sponsors, including two-thirds of House Democrats. Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said the bill languishing in committee, despite overwhelming bipartisan support, illustrates the concentration of power in the hands of a few and how it can be used to thwart the will of the majority through a majority of their elected representatives. All but one House Republican and two-thirds of House Democrats are co-sponsors of the proposed amendment.

Stam and Berger also cited a study released by the Institute of Justice indicating African Americans suffered a disproportionate effect from the exercise of eminent domain.

Eminent Domain & African Americans: What is the Price of the Commons?