News: CJ Exclusives

Bill nullifying Map Act passes Senate, heads to governor

Bill also requires NCDOT to study new methods of developing highway corridors

The Senate on Thursday gave its blessing to a bill that would put the state’s Map Act on ice.

House Bill 959 would place a one-year moratorium on any new corridor maps being filed under the Map Act. It would also rescind all current corridor maps filed under the 1987 law.

Calling the move “the necessary thing for us to do,” Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, urged his colleagues to adopt the measure. They did by a 42-4 vote. The bill, which passed the House on Wednesday, will now go to Gov. Pat McCrory.

The Map Act allows the N.C. Department of Transportation to file a highway corridor map with local officials, prohibits local governments from issuing building permits on the property within the corridor, and prohibits property within the corridor from being subdivided.

Map Act supporters say the law’s purpose is to hold down property acquisition costs for road projects by preventing development.

The N.C. Supreme Court in June ruled unanimously that the law’s development and subdivision restrictions amounted to an eminent domain taking of property requiring NCDOT to pay just compensation.

The case came out of Forsyth County. However, the ruling will affect similar lawsuits in Cleveland, Guilford, Wake, Cumberland, Robeson, and Pender counties.

The Map Act provisions, attached to a conference report of another bill modifying transportation laws, require NCDOT to notify local governments that the previous corridor maps have been rescinded.

Monetary claims and judgments from the eminent domain cases would be taken from regional allocations where the road project was to be funded. NCDOT also must study a new process for acquiring highway corridor property and give quarterly reports to the General Assembly on its progress. A final report will be due July 1, 2017.