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Supervisors support ‘yes’ vote on Nov. 6

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday, October 2, to support a referendum on the November 6 ballot to amend the state constitution. The proposed amendment states that private property can only be taken through eminent domain for public benefit, such as for the construction of roads, utilities and for the elimination of a public nuisance.

The proposed amendment would prohibit land to be taken for private benefit. 

The matter first came up during the public comment period at the September 18 board meeting when Trudy Feigum of Hartfield said she hoped supervisors and others would vote “yes” to Question 1 on the November 6 ballot to “protect our property rights.”

The proposed amendment is one of many similar amendments to surface across the country after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 against a Connecticut woman whose house was seized by the City of New London for an economic development project. The Supreme Court ruled in New London’s favor, said county attorney Mike Soberick.

A measure calling for a constitutional amendment on eminent domain and private property rights passed the House and Senate last year. It came before the General Assembly again this year, because in order to amend the Virginia Constitution, the proposed change must pass the legislature twice, with an election in between. Then, it must be approved by voters.

Monica Saunders of Middlesex thanked supervisors for supporting the proposed amendment. “Elected officials have worked hard for four years to get this on the ballot,” she said.

Dan Downs of Hartfield said supervisors are to be commended for their stand on the matter. “I hope everyone in the county will vote in favor of the amendment,” he said.

Question 1 on the ballot asks the voter to vote “yes” or “no” to the following: 

“Shall Section 11 of Article I (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended (i) to require that eminent domain only be exercised where the property taken or damaged is for public use and, except for utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance, not where the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development; (ii) to define what is included in just compensation for such taking or damaging of property; and (iii) to prohibit the taking or damaging of more private property than is necessary for the public use?”

For more information on the proposed amendment, “Ballot Question #1,” see story next week.

posted 10.03.2012

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