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North Carolina Eminent Domain Laws

North Carolina eminent domain laws can be found in Chapter 40 A of General Statutes of North Carolina.  Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-3, eminent domain rights may be exercised for public use or benefit by:

  • Private condemnors,
  • Local public condemnors such as the governing body of each municipality or county, or
  • Other public condemnors.

An owner whose property is totally taken in fee simple by a condemnor exercising the power of eminent domain is entitled to reimbursement from the condemnor of the pro rata portion of real property taxes paid by the owner that are allocable to a period subsequent to vesting of title in the condemnor, or the effective date of possession of the real property, whichever is earlier[i].

When the proposed project requires condemnation of only a portion of a parcel of land leaving a remainder of such shape, size or condition that it is of little value, a condemnor may acquire the entire parcel by purchase or condemnation[ii].

At the request of the owner, the condemnor should allow the owner of property acquired by condemnation to remove any timber, building, permanent improvement, or fixture wholly or partially located on or affixed to the property unless such removal would be inconsistent with the purpose for which condemnation is made, and should specify a reasonable time within which it may be removed[iii].

When any property condemned by the condemnor is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was condemned, it may be used for any other public purpose or may be sold or disposed of in the manner prescribed by law for the sale and disposition of surplus property[iv].

Any condemnor without having filed a petition or complaint, depositing any sum or taking any other action, is authorized to enter upon any lands, but not structures, to make surveys, borings, examinations, and appraisals as may be necessary or expedient in carrying out and performing its rights or duties[v].

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-19 provides that any private condemnor possessing by law the right of eminent domain has the right to acquire property required in the manner and by the special proceedings prescribed by the statute.

For the purpose of acquiring property, a private condemnor or the owner of the property sought to be condemned, may present a petition to the clerk of the superior court of any county in which the real estate described in the petition is situated, praying for the appointment of appraisal commissioners[vi].

On presenting such a petition to the clerk of superior court, all or any of the persons whose estates or interests are to be affected by the proceedings may answer such petition and show cause against granting the prayer of the same[vii].  The clerk should hear the evidence and allegations of the parties, and if no sufficient cause is shown against granting the prayer of the petition, should make an order for the appointment of three commissioners and should fix the time and place for the first meeting of the commissioners.

If no exceptions are filed to the commissioner’s report and if the clerk’s final judgment rendered upon the petition and proceedings is in favor of the condemnor, and upon the deposit by the condemnor of the sum adjudged, together with all costs allowed, into the office of the clerk of superior court, then, in that event, all owners who have been made parties to the proceedings should be divested of the property or interest therein to the extent set forth in the proceedings[viii].

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-41 provides that a public condemnor should institute a civil action to condemn property by filing in the superior court of any county in which the land is located a complaint containing a declaration of taking declaring that property therein is thereby taken for the use of the condemnor.

When a local public condemnor is acquiring property by condemnation, or when a city is acquiring property, or when a county is acquiring property, or when a local board of education or any combination of local boards of education is acquiring property, or when a condemnor is acquiring property by condemnation, title to the property and the right to immediate possession vests in the condemnor upon the filing of the complaint and the making of the deposit[ix].

Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-64, the measure of compensation for a taking of property is its fair market value.  If there is a taking of less than the entire tract, the value of the remainder on the valuation date should reflect increases or decreases in value caused by the proposed project including any work to be performed under an agreement between the parties[x].

[i] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-6.

[ii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-7.

[iii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-9.

[iv] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-10.

[v] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-11.

[vi] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-20.

[vii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-25.

[viii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-28.

[ix] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-42.

[x] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 40A-66.

Inside North Carolina Eminent Domain Laws