By Lindsay Marchello
Carolina Journal News Service
The Map Act’s days may be numbered.
State senators voted June 12 to repeal the Map Act, the law allowing the N.C. Department of Transportation to freeze development on property within a highway corridor. The vote was unanimous.
“This act has been a way for the NCDOT to tie properties up for a number of years, hundreds of which are in my district,” Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth said. “This bill repeals the Map Act so they can no longer do this.”
Enacted in 1987, the Map Act was intended to keep costs down until the NCDOT would buy property in highway corridors, but in several cases the purchase took decades. Frustrated property owners sued the transportation department, saying the department took their property without compensation.
NCDOT reasoned the restrictions were temporary, and no actual takings were made. Land in Map Act corridors were just restricted from further development or subdivision. Hundreds of property owners disagreed.
In a 2016 ruling, the state Supreme Court said Map Act corridors constituted takings of private property for public use. The court determined that NCDOT needed to compensate property owners for taking their land.
Despite the ruling, many property owners are still awaiting payment for land taken more than a decade ago. The NCDOT has claimed the slow pace was necessary. Every parcel of property is different and time is needed to get proper appraisals before paying land owners
Proponents of repeal are on a deadline. The General Assembly placed a moratorium on new maps after the N.C. State Supreme Court ruling in 2016. Lawmakers extended the deadline several times, but the moratorium officially ends July 1, 2019.
House Bill 131 completely repeals the Map Act. The House unanimously approved the bill April 3. With the Senate vote, all that is needed for the bill to become law is the governor’s signature.
“The moratorium expires July 1, so this bill needs to be signed this month,” Rep. Debra Conrad, R-Forsyth, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, told the Winston-Salem Journal.