On discretionary review pursuant to G.S. 7A-31 to review the decision of the North Carolina Court of Appeals reported in
Branch, Chief Justice. Justice Brock did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
The sole question presented for review in this case is whether the trial court erred in sustaining the validity of an exchange of real estate between the Redevelopment Commission of the City of Durham and the First Baptist Church of the City of Durham. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, holding the conveyance void from its inception due to the failure of the Commission to comply with certain procedural requirements set out in G.S. 160A-514(e) (formerly G.S. 160-464(e)).
Pursuant to Chapter 160A of the General Statutes, a redevelopment commission is empowered to "sell, exchange, transfer . . . or otherwise encumber or dispose of any real or personal property . . . ." G.S. 160A-512(6) (formerly G.S. 160-462(6)). This power is explicitly made "subject to the provisions of G.S. 160A-514."
The relevant portions of G.S. 160A-514 are as follows:
(c) A commission may sell, exchange, or otherwise transfer real property or any interest therein in a redevelopment project area to any redeveloper for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial or other uses or for public use in accordance
with the redevelopment plan, subject to such covenants, conditions and restrictions as may be deemed to be in the public interest or to carry out the purposes of this Article; provided that such sale, exchange or other transfer, and any agreement relating thereto, may be made only after, or subject to, the approval of the redevelopment plan by the governing body of the municipality and after public notice and award as specified in subsection (d) below.
(d) Except as hereinafter specified, no sale of any property by the commission or agreement relating thereto shall be effected except after advertisement, bids and award as hereinafter set out. The commission shall, by public notice, by publication once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in the municipality, invite proposals and shall make available all pertinent information to any persons interested in undertaking a purchase of property or the redevelopment of an area or any part thereof. The commission may require such bid bonds as it deems appropriate. After receipt of all bids, the sale shall be made to the highest responsible bidder. All bids may be rejected. All sales shall be subject to the approval of the governing body of the municipality. Nothing herein, however, shall prevent the sale at private sale without advertisement and bids to the municipality or other public body, or to a nonprofit association or corporation operated exclusively for educational, scientific, literary, cultural, charitable or religious purposes, of such property as is specified in subdivisions (1), (2), (3), or (4) of subsection (e) of this section, provided that such sale is in accordance with the provisions of said subdivisions. The commission may also sell personal property of a value of less than five hundred dollars ($500.00) at private sale without advertisement and bids.
(e) In carrying out a redevelopment project, the commission may:
(4) After a public hearing advertised in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 160A-513(e), and subject to the approval of the governing body of the municipality, convey to a nonprofit association or corporation
organized and operated exclusively for educational, scientific, literary, cultural, charitable or religious purposes, no part of the net earnings of which inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, such real property as, in accordance with the redevelopment plan, is to be used for the purposes of such associations or corporations. Such conveyance shall be for such consideration as may be agreed upon by the commission and the association or corporation, which shall not be less than the fair value of the property agreed upon by a committee of three professional real estate appraisers currently practicing in the State, which committee shall be appointed by the commission. All conveyances made under the authority of this subsection shall contain restrictive covenants limiting the use of property so conveyed to the purposes for which the conveyance is made.
Plaintiff in this action seeks to have the conveyance set aside because of the failure of the Commission to comply with the hearing and appraisal requirements of G.S. 160A-514(e)(4). Plaintiff maintains, and correctly so, that subsection (c) by its terms authorizes a commission to sell or exchange real estate, "provided that such sale, exchange or other transfer. . . may be made ...