On April 9, 2013, legislation was sponsored by Representative Moffitt to protect property owners from excessive regulatory overreach by local governments — who are often under the mistaken impression that they can over-regulate certain land uses that do not, by intent or in practice, violate the rights of others.
That legislation, House Bill 632, spawned a legislative study committee, whose first meeting was this morning in Raleigh. Representative Moffitt serves as its chairman and you can read his opening remarks here.
The North Carolina Supreme Court has consistently held that land-use regulation can pose an undue restriction on the reasonable exercise of property rights. The Court has also said that land-use regulations should be narrowly construed against the government and liberally construed in favor of the free use of land, thus protecting citizens from excessive governmental power. Any ambiguity in the laws, rules, or regulations should be resolved in favor of the property owner.
Overzealous state or local government regulators often interpret and enforce land use regulations far beyond the scope of the law or ordinance. The House Committee on Property Owner Protection and Rights was formed with an eye to the negative impact excessive regulations have on the citizens and businesses of North Carolina.
It’s important to keep in mind a point made this morning by Professor David Owens:
“Local governments in North Carolina have no inherent power. Municipalities and counties are created by the state and can exercise only those state powers that have been delegated to them by the General Assembly. The General Assembly can delegate or revoke such authority as deemed appropriate and may set procedural requirements for the use of delegated authority.”
The committee began its examination this morning by looking at the various types regulations and the impact they have on our private property rights. A wide-range of expert testimony was provided to the committee by various scholars from UNC’s School of Government and we include links to their informative statements below.
To download the School of Government’s Powerpoint presentation on Property Owner Protection and Rights, click here.
Authority to Enact and Enforce Land Use Regulations
by David Owens,
Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Government
The next meeting of the House Committee on Property Owner Protection and Rights is scheduled for April 7.