2012 ELECTION

2012 election: Eminent Domain to be decided in Virginia

Comment
Decrease Increase Text size

If you live in Virginia, you run a slight risk of the government taking over your land. The reason: eminent domain.

But the laws are strict - counties, towns and the state can only take land if the public use outweighs private gain. It's a 2007 law that Prince William County Board of Supervisors chairman Corey Stewart says isn't strong enough.

"The danger is that a legislature in the future could easily modify legislation that's currently in place just by simple majority,” says Stewart. “This way by putting it into the constitution its going to be very difficult to remove it or even modify it."

He's pushing for Question One - a bill that, if passed, will embed new rights into the constitution.

Among them:
-Municipalities will only take property to build utilities - or get rid of a public nuisance.
-Owners will be compensated justly for the land, including lost profits for business owners
-And property will never be seized for the purpose of economic development by a private entity - even if it creates jobs.
Supporters say question one will forever protect private property. But opponents say it could also bring perpetual problems.

“It just gets so specific that I think people will find that community activities are going to be impacted, cities and towns will decide that they can't afford to do things,” says Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman.

Bulova says events like parades, and projects like roads, could end up costing more because landowners could sue for lost profits or damages. If it passes, the bill will go into effect January 1st.

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus