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[Washington Business Journal] Northern Virginia Chambers Oppose Eminent Domain Bill
1/18/2012
ArticleTypeMember News

[http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2012/01/18/n-va-chambers-oppose-eminent-domain.html]

A coalition of Northern Virginia chambers of commerce has launched a campaign to oppose proposed amendments to the state constitution limiting the use of eminent domain.

The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership — a joint effort of the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers — argues in a press release issued Wednesday that the suggested restrictions would crush efforts by local jurisdictions to extend their infrastructure — water, sewer, gas lines and roads — to support economic development initiatives.

Multiple bills before the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates would restrict the use of eminent domain to public uses. Similar legislation was adopted during the 2011 General Assembly session, though constitutional amendments must be approved twice before they are turned over to voters in the form of a ballot measure.

They all use basically the same language: “That the General Assembly shall pass no law whereby private property, the right to which is fundamental, shall be damaged or taken except for public use.”

A public taking is not for public use, per the bills, “if the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development, except for the elimination of a public nuisance existing on the property.”

The chamber partnership “supports responsible use of eminent domain in instances where the rights of property owners are balanced with the rights of entities with existing eminent domain authority,” the group writes.

“In the current unprecedented economic climate, Virginia can ill afford to negatively impact its competitiveness with other states in attracting economic development that could provide much needed jobs for Virginia residents,” Mark Ingrao, president of the Greater Reston Chamber, said in the release.

Fairfax and Arlington counties also oppose the eminent domain amendment, as do numerous other pro-business organizations.

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