In a victory for local rule, Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, Jr. yesterday struck down a 2013 law transferring control of the Asheville water system to a newly-created regional entity as unconstitutional.
As reported by the Asheville Citizen-Times:
Manning said the law violates the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law because it “transfers the water system to another entity without any rational basis for doing so.”
The act would not change the use of the assets of the system, “will not result in any higher quality of water” and would give the system to “an entity that has never owned or operated a public water supply and delivery system,” Manning wrote.
The law would result in an “unlawful taking” of assets that the city runs similarly to a private corporation and that are entitled to similar protections, Manning wrote.
The state cannot require such a transfer of a private company’s assets and the water law “is not a valid exercise of the sovereign power of the legislative branch of government (or the state of North Carolina) to take or condemn property for public use.”
Even if the law were to be found valid, Asheville “is entitled to be paid just compensation” for the system, Manning wrote.
An appeal of Manning’s ruling is likely.
For more on the case, read here .