This question is best answered by dividing the question into two parts. First, can the government take a private individual’s land and convey it to a private actor? Second, can a private entity exercise the power of eminent domain to take a private individual’s land for its own use?
Can the government exercise eminent domain and then convey it to a private actor?
The question of whether eminent domain may be used for private use is a question that has sparked much controversy in recent years among Americans. The Supreme Court in a landmark case studied by law students around the country called Kelo v. City of New London essentially allowed for the exercise of eminent domain by a city government in order to allow for private economic development. The Court in Kelo stated that the private economic development of the land being condemned was a public purpose since the development plan would stimulate the economy in New London, Connecticut. Therefore, eminent domain can be exercised for private use so long as the private use is beneficial to the public by stimulating jobs, tax revenue, and other forms of public benefit. This same law holds true in North Carolina as well.
However, North Carolina has codified some of its eminent domain powers into laws that further allow private entities to exercise eminent domain. It should be noted that the caveat of “public benefit” remains as a requirement before any entity may exercise the power.
Can private entities exercise the power of eminent domain to take a private individual’s land for its own use?
In North Carolina, private entities have been given the right to exercise eminent domain through statute so long as the exercise of the power is for a public use or benefit (see N.C.G.S. Chapter 40A). What constitutes a public use or benefit is a topic of that will sometimes be decided in a condemnation proceeding in the courts. Usually, the private entities that will exercise eminent domain rights will be utility providers such as power companies, railroads, or telephone companies.
The procedures for private entities practicing eminent domain and government entities in North Carolina are different. Therefore, it is imperative that you consult an eminent domain attorney who can help you navigate this process.