Hardin v. South Carolina Dep’t of Transp.

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Abstract:

Hardin v. South Carolina Dep’t of Transp., 359 S.C. 244, 597 S.E.2d 814 (Ct. App. 2004)

      The City of Rock Hill, SC petitioned to have the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) move an intersection 1,000 feet east to accommodate a technical college and industrial park.  Doing so caused the closing of a median opening on Dave Lyle Boulevard, an access-controlled highway on which Hardin owned two properties.  Hardin alleges that the action constituted a taking worthy of compensation because it prevented customers from crossing the highway when leaving the property.  The trial court ruled that “the plaintiff suffered a compensable taking,” and when appealed, the appellate court affirmed. 

      The Supreme Court reconsidered the facts, pointing out that most jurisdictions hold that road improvements that modify or even prevent the flow of traffic to and from a property do not comprise a compensable taking, as long as reasonable access is still available to the property.  The court notes that, in South Carolina, property owners are endowed with more rights.  As held in previous cases (e.g. South Carolina State Hwy. Dep’t v. Allison, 346 S.C. 389, 393, 143 S.E.2d 800, 802 (1965)), “a property owner in South Carolina has an easement for access to and from any public road that abuts his property, regardless of whether he has access to and from an additional public road.” 

      The court goes on to make the point that this right does not imply access to the road in more than one direction.  In this case, the property owner still maintains access to the road with the exception of left turns.  “The ability to turn only one way onto the boulevard is irrelevant.”  In conclusion, the court claimed no taking in this case and reversed the lower courts’ decisions.

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