Amendment would restrict taking of private land in Virginia

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by 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on November 5, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 5 at 7:21 PM

RICHMOND - Virginia voters on Tuesday will decide the fate of eminent domain.

The constitutional amendment asks whether eminent domain should be used only when localities seize land for public use and not for economic development or private gain.

The proposed amendment says the right to private property is a "fundamental" right. that the taking or damaging of private property must be for a "public use" and only property necessary for the stated public use can be taken.

Supporters say it protects individual property rights.

Opponents say it will make the costs of public projects more expensive for state and local governments

In Hampton Roads, the on-going battle between the City of Norfolk and Central Radio on 39th Street highlights the issue. The Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority wants to use eminent domain laws to get that property and others for a public-private partnership called "The District." It will become a new dormitory for 900 Old Dominion University students, a grocery store, drug store and other businesses.

The eminent domain amendment is part of a national groundswell that's occurred since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that government has the authority to seize private property for economic development projects.

The Associated Press reports 44 states have changed their laws or their constitutions to counter that ruling, according to the nonprofit Institute for Justice. Virginia is counted among the 44 because it legislatively outlawed the practice in 2007.

A second constitutional amendment asks whether the General Assembly should be allowed to delay the start of a veto session by no more than one week . 

 

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