Tue09162014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Vote Yes on the Eminent Domain Amendment

Most counties, states, and even the Federal Government, tend to be reluctant to use their power of eminent domain.  As a rule, they much prefer a straight sale.  But, when they can’t get their way, or get the price they want to pay, their next step is eminent domain.  That way they can force the sale of the property at what they deem is the prevailing market rate.  It can seem heavy handed at times. I remember when I was on the Stafford school board, getting chewed out by a local property owner, because the school system was using eminent domain to purchase a small part of his property to use for a bus lane.  It was something we needed.  The current traffic pattern was unsafe, but the property owner, felt that knocking off the 12 feet, reduced the value of his remaining property to a level far below what we paid him.  I don’t know if was right or not.  He might have been, but it was then and there that I understood how personal this issue can be.  

Eminent Domain is an affirmed principle in American law. But there are limits and as noted, in what’s called the “takings clause” of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” That seems straightforward, and it’s likely that the writers of the Constitution had a good idea of what they meant by public use and just compensation. However, in recent years, the definition of public use has been stretched to the breaking point.  Local governments, not locally, but many in Virginia, have used Eminent Domain to force the sale of property, not for public projects, but instead to other individuals or to corporations.  That is if the locality deems the sale in the public interest.  That’s a broad and dangerous interpretation.

Sadly, it’s an interpretation that was endorsed by the Supreme Court in 2005 when they ruled that the City of New London, Connecticut, had the right to use eminent domain to force the sale of a property to a private developer.  The majority said that since it was an urban renewal project it was in the public interest.  It was a terrible decision.  Sandra Day O’Conner, writing for the dissent said, “…the beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”

Such takings of property aren’t as common in Virginia as they are in other states, but they do occur.  The City of Hampton Roads, for example, condemned a property owned by a small business in order to force its sale to the Old Dominion University Foundation.  In Alexandria, there is an on-going dispute about the City’s possibly using eminent domain to take a portion of the Alexandria Boat Club’s Property to support a private re-development initiative.  Sadly, this kind of abuse, where well connected individuals or companies can force the purchase of property, usually on bargain basement terms, is something you might expect in Russia, but surely not Virginia.

Fortunately, the General Assembly, following on the heels of the New London decision, passed, with strong Democratic support, legislation to prevent the abuse of eminent domain.  But, they wanted to do more than just add the legislation to the statute books.  This November, along with choosing our next President, Senator, and Member of the House of Representatives, we’ll have the chance to vote on an amendment to the Virginia Constitution that defines the limits of eminent domain.  It limits the definition of public use, and when this power is justified, demands that localities consider loss of access and other factors, when coming up with a sale price.

Most of all, it’s about fairness.  Eminent Domain is a valuable and needed prerogative of government.  But, when it’s abused, or too broadly interpreted, something has to be done. This amendment shouldn’t be necessary.  The power of Eminent Domain shouldn’t have been abused in first place, but it was, and this amendment, carefully and succinctly worded, seeks to put things right.  

You may reach David Kerr at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

201407chamber

 

201408source

201404getaway

 

201401kgpr

Contact Us

The Journal Press, Inc. P. O. Box 409, 10250 Kings Hwy. King George, VA 22485

EditorialAdvertisingOffice
Jessica Herrink, Publisher

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Carla Gutridge
540-709-7061
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Leonard Banks, Production
540-469-4196
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Leonard Banks, Sports editor
540-469-4196
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Steve Detwiler
540-709-7288
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Drue Murray
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phyllis Cook
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Charlene Franks
540-709-7075
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Linda Farneth,
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Elizabeth Foreman,
540-709-7076
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Charlene Franks, Accounts
540-709-7075
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Richard Leggitt
540-993-7460
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Bonnie Gouvisis
540-775-2024
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lori Deem, Church & Community
540-709-7495
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Advertising Information
540-775-2024
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jessica Herrink
540-469-4031
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Journal Print Shop

Contact Steve Detwiler

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

540-709-7288 • 540-775-2024

Quikey

Bulletline

link4

Your Invitation Place

Balloon House