Three weeks after the N.C. Supreme Court’s opinion in Kirby v. NCDOT stated that NCDOT took property owners in the Map Act Corridors property was taken by the NCDOT, North Carolina passed legislation that attempted to limit the interest rate recovery for Map Act Corridor Owners who filed after July 10, 2016.
On March 27, 2018, the Superior Court in Forsyth County ruled that legislation unconstitutional as applied.
The legislation (HB959) attempted to put a cap on interest property owners filing after July 10, 2016. In addition it lowered it to the interest rate set by the Federal Reserve for prime rate at the time of the taking.
The eminent domain attorneys at Hendrick Bryant argued for property owners that 1) the damage was unconstitutional as it applied to Property Owners in the corridors (NCDOT appealed, then withdrew its appeal after Beroth III Court of Appeals opinion) & 2) the legislation was unconstitutional. The Superior Court Judge agreed.
The court found that the change in law for the delay in damages was arbitrary and capricious fashion as to violate the North Carolina and U.S Constitutions.
Further, that the interest rate change has a major effect on those filing just compensation claims in the Map Act cases.
The Court said the issue is ripe and can be determined. That the issue of taking is now a “fait accompli”.
The Court ruled it was unconstitutional on a strict scrutiny determination. The court asked “Can the State justify cutting the presumptive interest rate calculation for certain similarly-situated landowners by demonstrating a compelling governmental interest?” The court answered it’s question “The answer is obviously no.”
For added legal conclusions, the court said even applying a less strenuous constitutional test of Rational Basis, the court arrived at the same conclusion. The State cannot demonstrate that HB959 is rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest.
HB 959 is determined to be unconstitutional. New property owner plaintiffs filing Map Act Corridor Inverse Condemnation cases will not be capped or subject to a rate lower than 8% from the date of taking.
Call Hendrick Bryant’s NC eminent domain attorneys to discuss your eminent domain claims. 336-723-7200
Here’s a link to the Winston-Salem Journal article: Court says interest payment limits are unconstitutional for beltway landowners