News: Quick Takes

House Passes bill effectively nullifying Map Act

H.B. 959 rescinds existing highway corridors and places a one-year moratorium on establishing new ones

The state’s controversial Map Act could be coming to an end, as the House on Wednesday adopted a bill placing a one-year moratorium on any new corridor maps from being filed under the act. House Bill 959 also rescinds all corridor maps that have been filed, freeing property owners from development restrictions placed on them.

“It takes the current Map Act and makes it null and void,” Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, told his House colleagues Wednesday night.

The Map Act, enacted by the General Assembly in 1987, allows the N.C. Department of Transportation to file a highway corridor map with local officials. It prohibits local governments from issuing building permits on property within the corridor. It also prohibits property from being subdivided.

The intent of the act is to hold down property acquisition costs for road projects by preventing development, NCDOT officials and supporters of the Map Act have said.

Earlier in June, the N.C. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the restrictions amounted to an eminent domain taking of property requiring the state to pay just compensation.

While the case before the Supreme Court involved property owners in the Northern Beltway corridor around Winston-Salem in Forsyth County, the ruling will affect similar lawsuits in Cleveland, Guilford, Wake, Cumberland, Robeson, and Pender counties.

The bill requires NCDOT to notify local governments that the previous corridor maps have been rescinded.

Monetary claims and judgments arising from eminent domain cases would be paid by NCDOT and taken from regional allocations where a specific road project was to be funded.

The bill also requires the DOT to study a new process for acquiring such property. It also requires the DOT to give quarterly reports to the General Assembly on its progress. It requires a final report to be submitted by July 1, 2017.

The Map Act provisions were attached to the conference report of a bill making other transportation law changes. It passed the House by a 90-17 vote. The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill on Thursday. If approved by the Senate, the bill will go to Gov. Pat McCrory.