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Virginia Property Rights

Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership.  The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity.  While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.

The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws.  The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain.  Stated below is the letter grade, as given by the Castle Coalition, along with a description of the changes that have occurred since Kelo v. City of New London.

Virginia Castle Coalition letter grade of

Virginia Property Rights

 

 

 

Several items of legislation reform were passed in the state of Virginia since Kelo v. City of New London in 2005. House Bill 2954 was passed in 2007, which enforced the definition of public use, and also significantly tightened the definition of “blight”, and how it can be used. Local municipalities can still acquire properties that pose a threat to public health or safety, but now residential homes and businesses cannot be seized simply because they are located within a larger blighted area. In addition to House Bill 2954, Senate Bills 781 and 1296 were amended so that the language in those was parallel to that in House Bill 2954 concerning the definition of blighted property.

Summary

Virginia has seen a significant amount of positive legislation since the landmark case of Kelo v. City of New London. In the state of Virginia, the state constitution allows for the General Assembly to define what “public use” means, so in order to secure legislative reform, a constitutional amendment must be passed in order to complete reform in favor of property owners. Click below to read more about House Bill 2954.

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