Eminent Domain & Taking Issues

Update: North Carolina Senate Votes In Favor of Legislation "Condemning" Land Lease with City of Raleigh

We blogged yesterday about Senate Bill 334, the proposed legislation to “condemn” the lease between the State of North Carolina (as lessor) and the City of Raleigh (as lessee) for the Dorothea Dix Campus, 300-plus acres in downtown Raleigh which the City planned to turn into a “destination park”.

This afternoon, after debate, the North Carolina Senate passed Senate Bill 334 with 29 yeas against 21 nays.  The Bill now heads to the North Carolina House for a vote of its own.

From what we at the Land Use Litigator can gather, the issue is divided between, at least: (1) those who feel a park in downtown Raleigh is a wonderful use of the land, (2) those who feel that the State gave the City a sweetheart deal in these tough, economic times wherein the State should revisit the lease at fair market value, (3) those who feel that turning the Campus into a park, and displacing the remaining mental health services and patients, heeds the voice of the elite and further dampens the whispers of those so easily  forgotten by society, (4) those who worry that absent the City’s use of the land as a park, the interests of private developers will prevail on the land, (5) those who worry that the State’s willingness to void a contract sets an insidious and ultimately damaging commercial precedent, (6) those who feel this is simply the latest effort — legislatively, executively or judicially — to curb the legal powers of local governments in North Carolina.

Said another way, are we talking about the lease or the park, here?  If it’s the lease we’re talking about, is it the State’s money or the benefit to the City about which we have a problem?  If it’s the park, is it the displacement or simply the use of downtown real estate as a non-developable park about which we have a problem?

Finally, a word about the land itself and its spirit.  We would commend readers to the tale of Dr. Albert Barnes, his foundation and what some consider the world’s most important single collection of post-impressionist art.  Dr. Barnes had a will, but others had a will even craftier than his.

Mike Thelen practices in Womble, Carlyle’s Real Estate Litigation and Land Use practice group. He regularly represents a wide variety of clients, from local governments to businesses, in land use and land development matters in both state and federal venues throughout North Carolina.  Follow the North Carolina Land Use Litigator on Twitter at @nclanduselaw.

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