Local planning departments and regional transportation planning authorities in North Carolina will develop proposed and conceptual plans for future roads. This is usually, but not always, in coordination with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. These proposed future road are often decades away from being started. These proposed roads are in anticipation of future growth which will put more cars on the local roads.
In the meantime, while studies get done, engineering takes place and funding gets figured out, these planners see the need to prevent development in these often “pie in the sky” road projects. When land owners do seek to develop their property, thinking that the land conforms to local zoning requirements, they rudely find out from planning departments that the property is in one of these future proposed may or may not get built roads. There goes the project. There goes your use of the land and a chance to get some return.
Our firm has seen site plans that require owners to carve out land from the project for future highways without any just compensation. We have seen situations where approval for site plans is conditioned upon the owner deeding the land in the future roadway to the city – for free — then the city sells it to NCDOT for substantial dollars. We have seen building permits get denied because the city someday plans to expand the interchange. It happens every week in this State.
This behavior by North Carolina planners has been uncontested for the most part by our developers and attorneys, despite similar behavior being found unconstitutional and requiring just compensation. There has been a “go along get along” frame of mind. What we have done is taught our planners bad tricks.
If you encounter planning staff that is asking you reserve out or donate part of your property for future roads, or denies you an otherwise valid building permit remember you have legal rights under our state and federal constitutions that protect you.
Call our Matthew Bryant and our Land Planning Attorneys at 336-723-7200. Matthew is chair of the firm’s condemnation committee.