Just five months ago, we posted this exclamation:
“Good news for home owners and landowners in NC! The NC House voted unanimously to get rid of the Map Act, which had allow the DOT to “reserve” its right to certain property corridors (protected corridors) for future development. Property owners were then prohibited from developing or improving their own land…sometimes for decades.”
As it turns out, we were a little hasty in our excitement.
While the House voted to get rid of this unfair law, the bill died in the Senate. That means that property owners are still bound up in red tape that costs them real money—sometimes their whole retirement.
When Your Property Isn’t Really “Yours”
If a government agency thinks it might, maybe, someday want to use your land for a roadway or other public project, it can declare you property part of a “protected corridor.” Under rules of a protected corridor, you can make repairs to a home that is currently standing or sell the property, but that’s about it. No development, building, or working the land. This can go on for years, decades, indefinitely. And good luck trying to sell that so-called protected property–no one wants to buy land that can’t be developed or used. But yes, you are still required to pay property taxes on the useless land.
Does that seem right to you? We don’t think so. We believe it is unconstitutional and illegal because it deprives property owners of their property without compensation. That’s why HensonFuerst has filed lawsuits challenging the Map Act for land owners across the state of North Carolina.
The Orange Route
One of the current big challenges faced by property owners are those with property along the preferred “Orange Route” that would be the location of the southern extension of the 540 Outer Loop. According to an article in the News & Observer:
In the Deerfield Park neighborhood east of Apex, a few houses have fallen into neglect in recent years. Barred from improving their homes and unable to find buyers who would be comfortable with the Map Act restrictions, the owners accepted take-it-or-leave-it offers from DOT and moved away.
They unloaded their houses for less than they would get – by law, a fair-market price – if they waited who knows how many years for DOT to negotiate a purchase price or condemn the property and pay what a court decides.
DOT sometimes finds tenants for these houses, people who don’t always make great neighbors.
Upstanding homeowners have ended up living next to drug dens—homes rented out by the government, which seems to have no regard for neighborhood standards.
The fight over the Map Act will continue, possibly for years. The N.C. Court of Appeals issued a powerful ruling against the DOT and the Map Act, stating that preventing landowners from getting fair economic value out of their property is, legally speaking, the same as taking it. The court could be paving the way for landowners to recoup some of the money that was rightfully theirs. BUT…the DOT is appealing the ruling. Oral arguments are expected in early 2016.
Hundreds of Map Act cases are currently being prepared, and no doubt hundreds more will be filed before the DOT’s challenge is resolved. If you are one of the landowners affected by the Map Act, unable to do anything with your own property, you have rights. For more information, visit our website at www.NCLandLawyer.com. Or, contact an experienced HensonFuerst land condemnation attorney for a free consultation at 800-452-9633.