Thursday, June 29, 2006

Eminent domain stars reveal legislative agenda


Richmond -- The stars of eminent domain reform in Virginia held a press conference Wednesday morning at the Patrick Henry buiding at Governor and Broad Street just off I-95, the former state Supreme Courthouse.

Senators John Edwards (Democrat, 21st), Ken Cuccinelli (Republican, 37th), and Delegate John Joannou (Democrat, 79th) spoke passionately about the core principles of reform they hope to advance in next year's session of the General Assembly.

Last session the legislators were unable to pass any eminent domain reform. However, 15 or so bills were consolidated into 2 competing bills. One would limit and the other expand the circumstances where local agencies can seize your home or business.

After driving from Charlottesville on my first eminent domain trip to the capitol, finding a place to park, and going through a sensitive metal detector, I sat down down at 9:25 for the last 15 minutes of the conference when star headliners were speaking. I was handed two fliers: 4 core principles and 14 examples of eminent domain abuses since 1998 in Virginia.

The first example may portend the wave of the future on this issue. The Va. Supreme Court ruled that Hampton could seize the Ottofaro property so the Industrial Development Authority can lease the land to developers. The court said public ownership is public use despite the clearly private uses intended for the property.

This type of eminent domain abuse has plenty of precedent. Public housing seizes land, clears and builds housing, and then rents it out for private residential use, typically to those who had lived there before the clearance.

Core Principles for Eminent Domain Reform in Commonwealth

(1) Prohibit Kelo-type abuses. Eminent domain to seize and sell for purpose of employment, economic development, or tax revenues.

(2) Prohibit taking for blight when property is not blighted.

(3) Re-establish property rights as co-equal with other Constitutional rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, and the right to vote.

(4) Recognize just compensation must be full compensation to include the many costs created by a seizure such as attorney's and appraiser's fees, and business losses.

3 Comments:

Anonymous TrvlnMn said...

Blair Hawkins wrote: Later on an audience member commented how there were no people in the photos. The photographer said he had intentionally avoided people. That decision makes the downtown look like a ghost town and effectively excludes the people from the history the pictures now tell.

While they may not have been available at the presentation the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society Website has a couple of series of photographs on their website that include photos with people from the time period (the Russell Payne Collection of the 1940's and the John Shepherd series ca. 1976). They are pretty interesting trips back into time.

7/03/2006 5:05 PM  
Anonymous TrvlnMn said...

Apologies.. My Browser went snafu and I posted this comment under the wrong thread. I've corrected that. So please delete this comment of mine and the one above.

7/03/2006 5:12 PM  
Blogger Blair said...

Thanks, Trvlnmn. The pictures in my story were on display in the hallway outside Council Chambers. I photographed the prints and posted them. I think they were from the Historical Society's collection. The collection is very interesting.

7/04/2006 2:33 AM  

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