Raleigh, N.C. — The House Transportation Committee gave its approval Tuesday to a bill to do away with the Map Act, a 1987 law that has allowed the state to block new development on properties that sit in the path of planned highways across North Carolina.
Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, called the law "abusive" and painted a picture of property owners who were caught betwixt and between, neither able to sell their land nor fully use it.
The state Court of Appeals has already found the state unconstitutionally takes land through the Map Act without compensating those owners. Although that case arose out of Forsyth County, there are similar situations across the state.
"We have situations in my district where we have (Interstate) 540, and people have lost full use of their land while they're waiting for a roadway to come," Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said.
However, Dollar cautioned that the state would need to find a way to plan for highways or face a skyrocketing costs for road construction.
In the Winston-Salem case, DOT officials estimated that it would cost the state $200 million to buy all of the property involved outright. Brown said that number was closer to $400 million. Either way, the demise of the Map Act will mean the state has to front the money to buy thousands or acres of property before its ready to build a road or risk owners putting new homes and businesses in the way of future routes. That would make future acquisition and construction more costly and time-consuming.
Despite that potential cost, many representatives said the state shouldn't be in the position of saving money by crippling property owners.
"The Map Act cannot be tweaked or fixed. It needs to be completely repealed," Rep. Debra Conrad, R-Forsyth, said.
The bill now heads to the House Appropriations Committee before heading to the floor.