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McGrady files bill to limit eminent domain

State Rep. Chuck McGrady is once again pushing a state constitutional amendment to bar the condemnation of private property except for a public use.

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The proposed amendment creates "a higher standard than is required by federal law for the State and its local governments when acquiring property through condemnation," McGrady, a non-practicing lawyer, said in a newsletter. "The bill explicitly requires just compensation and provides the right to a jury trial in condemnation cases."
McGrady's bill is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London, which allowed the New Hampshire city to take private over land for "economic development" by a private company. The 2005 case set "a low constitutional standard for governments condemning property but left the door open for states to adopt a stricter standard," McGrady said, "and that is exactly what H3 proposes to do.
"Aside from providing a higher bar for use of governments' power to condemn property, the proposed constitutional amendment corrects two other omissions in the NC Constitution," he added. "Among state constitutions, only North Carolina does not expressly state that a government must pay for the private property it takes. North Carolina also does not have a constitutional provision which guarantees for jury trials in condemnation cases. These omissions will be corrected if the bill passes and the amendment is ultimately approved by the state's voters."