Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Virginia Farmers Seek Limits on Emminent Domain

The Virginia Farm Bureau to lobby General Assembly to limit takings
The federation's president, Wayne F. Pryor, said the constitutional amendment would more sharply define what public use is and "ensures more land is not taken than is necessary."

Pryor casts the issue as one critical to farmers, saying they "need the land to farm."

"For them, it's their land, they bought it, they paid for it, they pay taxes on it and they just don't feel it's right to take it from them and give it to another private entity," Pryor said in a video produced by the Farm Bureau.

The constitutional amendment provides that private property can only be taken for public use, and would prohibit eminent domain actions for private enterprise, job creation, tax revenue generation or economic development.

The Farm Bureau cites a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Connecticut case. The justices ruled 5-4 that local governments may seize homes and businesses — even against the owners' will — for private economic development.
Ah yes, the Kelo decision.  The US Supreme Court sided with the city of New London, Connecticut, when it condemned private property for the alleged purpose of selling it to a developer for a comprehensive redevelopment plan which promised 3,000 new jobs and a million dollars a year in tax revenues.  Then, the developer failed to get financial backing, and the land became a vacant waste, after Susan Kelo was evicted.  Not exactly a high water mark in American jurisprudence.
"Farmers own a lot of open land, farmers own a lot of open space, and those spaces are targeted for roads, highways, parks and other things," Wilmer Stoneman II, a Farm Bureau lobbyist said. "We don't think it's right to take someone's livelihood and give it to someone else."
It wouldn't surprise me if farmers weren't thinking in terms of the "Bay Diet" plan as well here, the idea being that when nutrient controls fail, the state may start looking to take the land to prevent nutrient pollution. If so, I can't say I blame them

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