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Court of Appeals rules against Asheville in fight over control of water system

In a unanimous opinion issued today, the Court of Appeals ruled against the city of Asheville in its fight for control over its water system, reversing the trial court.

After the General Assembly created a new Metropolitan Water and Sewage District and then immediately transferred Asheville’s water system to that district in May 2013 — without the city’s consent and without compensation — Asheville challenged the transfer as unconstitutional.

In arguments before Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, the city argued that the transfer violated provisions of the state constitution prohibiting the General Assembly from enacting certain types of local laws; violated the “law of the land ” clause because the law singled out Asheville over other municipalities for no rational reason; and exceeded the State’s authority to take property outright or without paying just compensation.

Cities across the state and the League of Municipalities agreed with Asheville, contending that the state was treading on dangerous ground when it comes to concepts of local rule.

Manning agreed with the city in an opinion issued in June 2014, but the three-judge panel, which included Court of Appeals judges Chris Dillon, Rick Elmore and Ann Marie Calabria, disagreed and rejected each of the city’s arguments.

Read the full Court of Appeals opinion here.

For more on the case, read here.

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