North Carolina Property Rights

Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership.  The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity.  While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.

The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws.  The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain.  Stated below is the letter grade, as given by the Castle Coalition, along with a description of the changes that have occurred since Kelo v. City of New London.

North Carolina Castle Coalition letter grade of


Although the state of North Carolina has not seen much improvement since Kelo v. City of New London, a few recent changes have helped property owners. The General Assembly commissioned a special committee which was set aside to asses the use of eminent domain in the state of North Carolina. This committee did not attempt to pass new legislation, rather it tightened how and when eminent domain could be used.

House Bill 1965, which was proposed by the committee and passed by the General Assembly, states that all municipalities must go through the General Assembly if they want to condemn land for economic or commercial development. The bill did not, however, narrow the definition of blight, but does require blighted properties to be evaluated on a parcel by parcel basis.


North Carolina receives a mediocre grade because of the establishment of an assembly to watch and monitor eminent domain in the state. Unfortunately, the assembly ceased to show much improvement for property owners. Parcel by parcel evaluation of blighted property only represents a meager attempt to protect property owners. The state needs to see the assembly jump into action by providing continuous protection for property owners. Click below to read more details on House Bill 1965.

Recent Updates

Eminent domain reform might finally be on the ballot in North Carolina in 2012.  the North Carolina House tentatively voted on June 28th, 2010 in favor of a new constitutional amendment that would prohibit condemnation of private land to be used solely for economic development.  The proposed amendement would also give property owners who are undergoing condemnation the right to a jury trial to determine just compensation.  A final vote is expected shortly followed by a Senate vote.  If approved, the proposed amendments would be on the ballot in 2012, giving property owners the right to vote on the issue.

The language to be added includes: “Private property shall not be taken by eminent domain except for public use.  Public use does not include the taking of property in order to convey an interest in the property for economic development.  Just compensation shall be paid and, if demanded, shall be determined by a jury.”


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