|Mayor Bennett of Southern Shores explaining the town’s position on the “quick take” resolution.|
With the quick take resolution just passed by the Southern Shores town council and the concept of eminent domain on everyone’s mind–certainly in Southern Shores it’s on everyone’s mind–a brief recap of where the concept came from may be helpful.
The concept, in fact, for the legal framework for eminent domain is in our constitution in the fifth amendment. “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” As a nation we have benefited from this concept; it is how we built our transportation network, as an example.
However, there is a concern that what constitutes public use and public benefit has become an increasingly blurred line, and there is considerable debate on all levels of government about how broad the power to condemn property for eminent domain should be.
The power to use eminent domain is primarily granted through the legislative process, and it’s very important to note this in understanding why the Southern Shores town council passed the resolution asking the state legislature for quick take eminent domain power. Without legislative approval, the town cannot use the quick take provisions they are requesting.
That does not preclude the town from condemning property for access to the beach if the town should decide to pursue beach mitigation or nourishment. There is a compelling argument to be made that maintaining the shoreline of a town that relies on the beach to bring revenue to municipal coffers is in the public interest. What will change is the process to gain access–a process that is far more time consuming in a regular eminent domain hearing.