Wednesday, 13 March 2019 13:18

Bill repealing Map Act gets approval from transportation committee

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RALEIGH — The Map Act may have reached the end of the road.


The House Transportation Committee has given a favorable report to House Bill 131, which aims to repeal the act.  A companion bill, Senate Bill 71, is in the Senate Rules Committee. H.B. 131 heads to the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Debra Conrad, R-Forsyth, is a sponsor, and it isn’t the first time she filed the bill. In 2015, Conrad tried to repeal the Map Act. Due to litigation over Map Act properties, the bill never made it to the governor’s desk.

A moratorium on new maps was enacted, but a full repeal has remained elusive.

Conrad, along with Reps. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; Larry Potts, R-Davidson; and John Torbett, R-Gaston, are trying again to take the Map Act off the books.

“We are finally going to put the nails in the coffin and repeal it,” Conrad said during the meeting Tuesday, March 12. “This is a good day for property rights.”

The Transportation Corridor Official Map Act was enacted in 1987. Through the Map Act, the N.C. Department of Transportation was able to freeze development on properties within a highway corridor. The idea was to keep costs down until the NCDOT got around to actually buying the property, which in several cases has taken decades.

But instead of keeping costs down, the NCDOT found itself on the other end of a lawsuit from hundreds of property owners claiming the agency used the Map Act to essentially take their property without compensation.

The DOT argued the restrictions were temporary, and no actual takings were made. But in 2016, the N.C. Supreme Court in Kirby v. NCDOT ruled property under the Map Act amounted to a taking, and just compensation was due. Although the NCDOT has paid some landowners for their property, many have yet to see a payment.

“We just got some numbers just a few weeks ago that right now [NCDOT] are estimating they’re one third of the way through litigation. The sum they have paid out to date is around $230 million” Torbett said. “One can safely do the math and know that somewhere over $600 million will be the cost to complete the purchasing of right-of-ways involving the current litigation.”