This question was brought to many Americans’ attention in 2005 after the decision for Kelo v. New London was handed down by the United States Supreme Court. In that case, the Court stated that government could condemn property and convey it to private entities for economic development. The public use requirement was found in that the private developer would bring about economic benefits to the public by increased tax revenue and an increase in jobs. In context, the Kelo case occurred during the time Pfizer Inc. moved to New London, Connecticut. The condemnation of Ms. Kelo’s house was required to build a shopping center close to the Pfizer plant as an alleged attraction to Pfizer Inc.
However, in the wake of Kelo, many states scrambled to pass laws to limit the government’s ability to exercise eminent domain in same fashion as in Kelo. North Carolina has not been the best at limiting the government’s power. However, under the recently passed Urban Redevelopment Plan, the General Assembly did tighten up on when the government could condemn a “blighted” area. Essentially, this curtails the reverse “robin hood effect” of taking from the poor to give to the rich. The Urban Redevelopment Plan does serve to also keep the government from taking land in pristine condition and giving it to other private entities as in Kelo.
Subsequently, the Urban Redevelopment Plan does not serve to protect all land that is in pristine condition. Certain government entities could take property for economic development reasons if they are authorized by statute. For example, Chapter 40A of the North Carolina General Statutes authorizes public transportation authorities to take private land that might be useful to its purposes. If you are facing a situation similar to the ones above, you should not hesitate to reach out to a North Carolina eminent domain attorney.