One of the first bills introduced in the newly convened North Carolina State Legislature seeks to limit condemnation powers. House Bill 3, seeks to amend the North Carolina State Constitution to ban the use of eminent domain for private use. Specifically, House Bill 3 seeks to amend N.C.G.S. 40A-3 to limit takings by “private condemnors” to those for “public use” only, a change from the current “private condemnor” power to take for “public use or benefit”. However, it also adds takings by “private condemnors” for the construction of “facilities related to the distribution of natural gas” to the list of permitted takings.
NC is one of the few states that did not pass legislation in the wake of the 2005 US Supreme Court Kelo case. That case held that a condemnation for economic development satisfied the US constitutional “public purpose” requirement even if a private entity would ultimately own the condemned property. The Kelo Court stated, however, that it was only ruling on the constitutionality of the taking and that federal and state legislatures could limit the powers if they felt it was necessary. If passed, the NC bill would appear to prevent that type of taking.