If you are a property owner in North Carolina, we urge you to contact your State Senator, and any of the other State Senators on the following list (scroll to the bottom of this post), and ask them to support two pending laws, both of which passed with overwhelming support in the House… but have been stymied in the Senate. This request is time sensitive – only a few weeks remain in the current legislative session. We have waited too long for fairness in the way DOT takes land from private citizens in this state. These bills would bring North Carolina into line with the majority of states in terms of protecting property rights.
House Bill 127
The first bill was introduced by Representative Stam as House Bill 127, and passed easily by a vote of 102 to 8. That bill brought the following improvements for property owners whose real estate is being taken by the DOT or other North Carolina governmental entity:
- Property owners will be paid interest on judgments from date of the property is taken until the date judgment is paid.
- Fairer compensation for property owners by modifying the measure of damages.
- Property owners will be reimbursed for their appraisal and engineering costs in condemnation proceedings.
- The DOT will be required to provide relocation notices to condemnees at the same time as they are served with condemnation complaints, notices of deposit, and memorandums of action.
It is anticipated that this bill, which was tabled by the Senate Transportation Committee, will be reintroduced to the Senate this session. With enough public outcry, there’s a good chance the bill will be passed.
Senate Bill 74
The second bill, House Bill 3 introduced by Representative McGrady, passed the House 113 to 5. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jackson as Senate Bill 74. Even though it passed the Senate on its first reading, it was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate, where it has languished.
This bill will provide protection for North Carolina citizens against predatory condemnation practices in which private parties can take land from homeowners, even if there is no public good.
Ten years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stunning opinion, Kelo v. City of New London, which permitted the City of New London to raze a neighborhood, taking homes from private citizens to give the land to another private citizen, a corporation intending to bring private enterprise to New London. The houses were razed, and now the land sits fallow and undeveloped. The project was never built. Across the country, a wave of outrage led most states (40) to adopt laws and constitutional amendments preventing private property from being taken from one private citizen and given to another (who the government might like better or thinks might bring in greater tax revenue). North Carolina was one of the few states which did nothing to protect its citizens from that decision. Consequently, private property continues to be taken from private parties and given to other private parties through the condemnation process.
Senate Bill 74 would bring North Carolina into the family of states that provide protection against this type of predatory condemnation for its citizens.
Call to Action
Adoption of these two bills would greatly improve the rights of North Carolina’s property owners, while having little fiscal impact on state government costs. Please ask your senator to help make that happen.
When contacting your State Senator, please let them know that you are their constitutent, and that you and your fellow citizens will be adversely impacted if these bills are not passed.
Key senators to contact regarding this legislation (even if they are not your Senator) are:
Sen. Jim Davis
Cherokee, Clay, Macon, Graham, Jackson, Swain, Haywood
Sen. Bob Rucho
Sen. Jeff Tarte
Sen. Trudy Wade
Sen. John Alexander
Sen. Chad Barefoot
Sen. Tamara Barringer
Sen. Dan Soucek
Caldwell, Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Alleghany
Sen. Shirley Randleman
Wilkes, Surry, Stokes
Sen. David Curtis
Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln
Sen. Andrew Brock
Davie, Rowan, Iredell
Sen. Ronald Rabin
Lee, Harnett, Johnston
Sen. Brent Jackson
Duplin, Sampson, Johnston
Sen. Buck Newton
Wilson, Nash, Johnston
Sen. Michael Lee
Sen. Norm Sanderson
Pamlico, Craven, Carteret
Sen. Bill Cook
Beaufort, Hyde, Dare, Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Gates