The Mountain Valley Pipeline might have gotten a favorable ruling out of the Fourth Circuit earlier this week regarding the use of eminent domain, but the road has been very rocky for Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Work has started and stopped due to lawsuits; permits have been issued, challenged, and revoked; and the projected cost has gone from original estimates of $4B to more than $7B. Dominion now estimates that full service won’t begin until 2021 – a year behind schedule.
A recent article that appeared online via the Mooresville Citizen covered a public meeting hosted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation regarding the Oates Road widening project. NCDOT hosts such meetings all over the state, nearly year round, ostensibly giving the public the opportunity to view maps, ask questions, and learn how a specific transportation project might affect their property.
It appears that another natural gas pipeline crossing through Virginia – no, not the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but the Mountain Valley Pipeline – has hit a surprise hurdle.
HB3 would amend Article I of the North Carolina constitution to add Section 38, entitled “Eminent Domain”: Private Property shall not be taken by eminent domain except for a public use. Just compensation shall be paid and shall be determined by a jury at the request of any party.” Continue reading “House Bill 3: Protecting the Landowner?”
The landscape of eminent domain law in North Carolina saw changes both big and small in 2016. The NC Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision in the Kirby case, marking a monumental shift towards protecting property owners’ rights. As a response, the North Carolina legislature tried their best to contain the damage and limit compensation to those affected landowners. The repercussions of these changes will ripple in the State for years to come. Continue reading “Eminent Domain Year-In-Review”
On Jan. 14th, 2015 State Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-117th Dist.) filed a bill proposing an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution in order to address concerns about the condemnation of private property within the state. House Bill 3 proposes to amend section 19 of the Constitution to explicitly state that (1) eminent domain should be used only to take private property for public use; (2) just compensation shall be paid whenever private property is taken; and (3) a landowner has a right to a jury trial in a condemnation matter. Rep. McGrady recently told the Hendersonville Lightning that “[a]mong state constitutions, only North Carolina does not expressly state that a government must pay for the private property it takes.” Indeed, even the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Continue reading “House Bill 3: Explicit Protections for Landowners”
Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas have selected Dominion to construct their proposed 550-mile long natural gas pipeline. The so-called “Atlantic Coast Pipeline” will run from West Virginia, through Virginia and North Carolina, and will cost between $4.5 and $5 billion. In North Carolina, the pipeline will run from Northampton County, then travel southwest through six other counties before ending in Robeson County and connecting to existing Piedmont Natural Gas transmission facilities. According to a Duke Energy press release, “Dominion is conducting land surveys along the proposed pipeline route. It will determine the final route based on landowner input; community meetings in counties on the route; consultation with government agencies and other interested stakeholders; and an environmental, historical and cultural impact assessment.” Continue reading “Dominion Selected to Build $5B Atlantic Coast Pipeline”
The US Senate recently passed a House-drafted bill that provides a temporary fix to the federal Highway Trust Fund problems. The bill moves $11 billion from other sources over to the fund to prevent a 28% reduction in spending during peak construction time. The fix is far from permanent, but will allow the feds to continue to make payments to state agencies and others – for now. Several of the large transportation projects currently underway in North Carolina receive federal dollars, including the Monroe Bypass, I-540 / Outer Loop in Wake County, and the Durham East End Connector.
On April 11, 2014, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Beroth Oil Company, et al. v. North Carolina Department of Transportation. The Court granted discretionary review of the Court of Appeal‘s unanimous decision to deny class certification to the plaintiffs, who are landowners in the path of the Northern Beltway in Winston Salem. In a 5 to 2 ruling, the Court held that the trial court and Court of Appeal’s analysis of the merits of the underlying inverse condemnation claim was improper, but also affirmed the lower courts‘ decisions not to certify the plaintiffs as a class, finding that “because of unique nature of property, coupled with the large number of diverse tracts involved in this litigation, individual issues would predominate over common issues of law and fact in a trial on the merits.”
Recently, a reporter with the Weekly Standard paid a visit to New London, Connecticut, site of perhaps the most well-known eminent domain controversy in the country. As you will recall, New London hoped to jump-start economic development in the city and add much-needed jobs. To realize this goal, in 1998 the city partnered with New London Development Corporation (NLDC), a private nonprofit organization. The anchor to the revitalization project was Pfizer, which was offered copious tax breaks to locate a $300 million research facility in the Fort Trumbull area of New London. The hope was that the Pfizer facility would draw additional mixed development to the area. NLDC’s plan called for nearly 90 acres in the Fort Trumbull area to be redeveloped, which included approximately 115 privately owned properties. Continue reading “Kelo Revisited”