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Capital Outdoor Advertising, Inc. v. City of Raleigh

Supreme Court of North Carolina
446 S.E. 2d 289 (1994)


On October 23, 1983, the City of Raleigh (Raleigh) (defendant) in North Carolina enacted a billboard-amortization ordinance, under which billboards exceeding a certain size in certain districts were to be removed by April 24, 1989. For two years prior to adopting this ordinance, Raleigh held frequent meetings and hearings that were attended by representatives of several companies engaged in billboard advertising. On April 12, 1989, 12 days before the required removal date, Capital Outdoor Advertising, Inc., and other companies (plaintiffs) brought suit, challenging the ordinance as a regulatory taking for which no remedy had been provided. The plaintiffs also argued that the size, spacing, and height restrictions of the ordinance were enacted solely for aesthetic purposes and would take the substantial part of the value of the plaintiffs’ property. Accordingly, the plaintiffs argued that the ordinance was outside the scope of Raleigh’s police power and violated the state and federal constitutions. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The trial court dismissed the action for failure to state a claim for which relief could be granted, finding that the action had accrued when the ordinance was passed in 1983 and was therefore time barred under the nine-month statute of limitations. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that their cause of action had not arisen until the expiration of the amortization period in 1989. The court of appeals reversed, and Raleigh appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Meyer, J.)

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