Here's the latest in a case we've been following, and which earlier resulted in a very good decision from the North Carolina Supreme Court.
In Kirby v. North Carolina Dep't of Transportation, No 56PA14-2 (June 10, 2016), the N.C. Supreme Court held that the "Map Act," a statute by which the DOT designated vast swaths of property for future highway acquisition, was a taking because the act prohibited development of designated properties in the interim. The court concluded that "[t]hese restraints, coupled with their indefinite nature, constitute a taking of plaintiffs’ elemental property rights by eminent domain." The court remanded the case for a parcel-by-parcel determination of just compensation.
Here's the trial court's Order on remand, granting in part the plaintiffs' motion for partial judgment on the pleadings on inverse condemnation liability, and ordering the NCDOT to "file plats, make deposits with the required statutory interest, and, if any plaintiff rejects the NCDOT offer, scheduling Section 108 hearings if either party requests it, in order to comply with the requirements of N.C.G.S. § 136-111." Order at 7.
The court demurred from determining the nature of the property interests taken ("the Court is not prepared at this stage of the proceedings to rule that the takings are in the nature of fee simple valuation; therefore, so the court will deny the Plaintiffs' motions at this time in this regard"). Order at 9-10. The court left that question for the eminent domain phase. The remainder of the Order set out the process and timeline for each party and the court to follow.
More on the court's order here ("Forsyth judge to state: Start paying Winston-Salem beltway landowners").
Designation of private property for future acquisition -- but then not actually taking the property in a timely fashion -- is a burgeoning issue nationwide. In addition to North Carolina's Kirby cases, we've seen decisions on the same or similar issue from appellate courts in California and Nevada. We've devoted two sessions at the upcoming ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Conference (San Diego, January 26-28, 2017) to the subject:
- Planning Ahead: Future Highway Corridors as Takings - with Matthew Bryant (counsel for the property owners in Kirby), and Andrew Gowder.
- Protecting the Owner From an Unlawful Taking: Leveraging Public Records in a Successful Defense - with Linde Hurst Webb.
Counsel in the California and Nevada cases will also be at the conference.