Shelby Landowners vs. NCDOT

In March, the John Locke Foundation published a Spotlight report, “Wrong Way: How the Map Act threatens NC property owners.”  If you haven’t read that report, you should consider taking a look at it.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of eminent domain, whereby the government can purchase land it needs for a public purpose, like a road, whether the landowner wants to sell or not.  There are arguments for and against, but it’s a long-established practice, and I don’t hear many people arguing that we should get rid of it altogether.

However, the power of eminent domain can be abused, and our Spotlight highlighted one way that is happening in North Carolina.  Essentially, the government can designate land as a location for a future road, and once they do, the landowners are stuck.  They can’t sell until the State is ready to buy.  They can’t make improvements to their property.  They can continue to live in a house, but they can’t really make any changes to anything.

And this can pretty much go on indefinitely.

Some property owners in Shelby, who are currently being affected by the Map Act, are going so far as to consider suing the DOT.  They own land, and they’re required to pay taxes on it, but they can’t use it in the ways they want because the land is within the future US 74 Bypass.  They see this as an infringement of their property rights.  I agree.
Our Spotlight recommended repealing the Map Act to protect the property rights of citizens.  Such a repeal would be the best way to protect the property rights of all North Carolinians, including these landowners in Shelby.

Julie Tisdale / City and County Policy Analyst

Julie Tisdale is City and County Policy Analyst at the John Locke Foundation. Before coming to the Locke Foundation as the research publications coordinator, she worked at the...

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