Inverse Condemnation and the “Map Act”

February 23rd, 2015

Finally! Good news for property owners in North Carolina. If your land has been tied up by the DOT, that’s about to change. Since 1989, the State of NC has been preventing landowners from building on or improving their own real estate if it was located in areas that might be affected by future highway bypass projects. This was because of a law call the Transportation Corridor Official Map Act, which allowed the state to “map” large areas of land around cities where the DOT might—maybe—want to build a bypass. And while the State was deciding whether they EVER wanted to build these bypasses, the Map Act stopped landowners from improving or building on property within the mapped areas. In a nutshell, property owners have been prevented from obtaining building permits, doing renovations on their homes or businesses, subdividing or otherwise developing their land. And they also haven’t been able to sell their property, because who wants to buy land which may someday be part of a highway?

The reason for the law was simple: It depressed property values around potential bypasses so that IF the state decided to build the highway, it could eventually buy the properties for less than their actual worth.

The Map Act has been most apparent around North Carolina’s urban centers near interstate highways, in areas including:

  • Raleigh and Wake County
  • Winston-Salem and Forsyth County
  • Greensboro and Guilford County
  • Shelby and Cleveland County
  • Wilmington and Pender/New Hanover Counties.
  • Greenville and Pitt County
  • Charlotte and Mecklenburg/Iredell County
  • Goldsboro and Wayne County
  • Fayetteville and Cumberland County

Well, on February 17, 2015, the NC Court of Appeals (in Kirby v. NC DOT) finally struck down these actions by the state. North Carolina can no longer tie up properties for an indefinite amount of time without paying the owners for the resulting damages. In this ruling the court has told the state that they must pay landowners for their land, even if they are not ready to move forward with the project. The court said this was a case of inverse condemnation, because the state effectively “took” the land by rendering it of little or no value by not letting them to use their own land.

HensonFuerst Attorneys David Henson and Anne Fisher currently represent a number of landowners who have similar inverse condemnation claims stemming from the Map Act. If you are interested in learning more about your legal rights involving this inverse condemnation, as well as your rights to make claims for attorneys fees and interest, give us a call at 800-4-LAWMED, or visit our website at www.nclandlawyer.com.