- The state revoked eminent domain authority for economic development.
- Unfortunately, although “blight” is designated on a property-by-property basis, it is still broadly defined and subject to abuse.
North Carolina made important strides toward ensuring strong protections for property rights, but still has room for improvement. The General Assembly commissioned a Select Committee on Eminent Domain Powers to assess the use of eminent domain in the state. Rather than proposing a constitutional amendment to create a fairly permanent prohibition on the use of eminent domain for private economic development, the committee recommended only tweaking the state’s condemnation laws.
House Bill 1965, which was proposed by the committee and eventually passed by the General Assembly, repeals all laws allowing local condemnations for economic development, meaning that a municipality must go through the General Assembly if it wants to get eminent domain authority for economic development. The bill did not narrow North Carolina’s broad definition of “blight,” although it does require blight designations to be assessed on a parcel-by-parcel basis.
The reforms thus adopted do provide modest protections for North Carolina’s homes, businesses, farms, and houses of worship, but they are still far from secure. In future sessions, the General Assembly needs to ensure that its blight laws only allow the condemnation of parcels that pose a threat to public health and safety. Furthermore, the state’s citizens should demand the opportunity to adopt a strong constitutional amendment that will enshrine a clear, narrow definition of “public use.” Without these changes, North Carolinians will not be completely free of the threat of eminent domain for private benefit.