Epcon Homestead, LLC v. Town of Chapel Hill, No. 21-1713 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
The Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina (the “Town”) requires housing developers seeking a special use permit to set aside a portion of their developments for low-income residents or pay a fee in lieu of that condition. In 2015, Epcon Homestead, LLC (“Epcon”) initiated its purchase of property subject to the fee-in-lieu. Epcon paid the requisite fee installments, commenced the development project, and sold each parcel. After Epcon satisfied its final fee installment in March 2019, it brought this lawsuit under a state cause of action to recover the whole sum it had paid to the Town and alleged federal takings and due process violations. The district court dismissed the case under North Carolina’s three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Epcon promptly appealed, asking this Court to hold that the statute of limitations on Epcon’s federal claims began instead when it paid the fee installments.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court held that Epcon’s federal claims are barred by the statute of limitations because it bought the property subject to the special use condition more than three years before it finally filed this lawsuit. The court also affirmed the district court’s decision to decline supplemental jurisdiction over Epcon’s state-law claims. The court explained that the fact that the special use permit did not require and simply permitted Epcon to develop the land for the use described in the application is hardly noteworthy—permitting a particular use is an essential feature of any permit. Thus, when Epcon learned of the special use permit condition on its recently acquired land, its takings claim became actionable.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on March 20, 2023.