Eminent Domain in Virginia
Eminent domain is a specific type of issue that can arise under real estate law, and typically landowners require legal representation to protect their rights. At James W. Hildrup, PLC, for more than three decades we have successfully assisted clients with real estate matters and provided savvy legal counsel for dealing with eminent domain concerns.
What is eminent domain?
Eminent domain is the government's right to take property for public use. This power is derived from the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Fifth Amendment states that the government must provide just compensation to the owner for the property that it takes. The exact wording is, “private property (shall not) be taken for public use without just compensation."
Proceedings to exercise the right of eminent domain are called condemnation proceedings. Owners have the right to due process to argue against the government's taking their property or argue that the compensation being offered for the property is unjust.
Eminent domain laws
Eminent domain applies to governments at the local, state and federal levels. Government entities at any of these levels can exercise their right to eminent domain, seize your property and provide you with just compensation. However, in Virginia, property owners have the right to challenge an eminent domain process when the government entity taking the property cannot show that the intended property use is for public purpose or public necessity.
Recent changes in Virginia eminent domain law
In response to the case Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled that the economic development in New London was a public use based on the Fifth Amendment. Numerous state governments disagreed. In fact, Virginia along with 40 other states, passed their own eminent domain legislation to clarify what was permitted as eminent domain use.
In 2012, a measure came to vote before Virginia residents whether to amend the state Constitution's Bill of Rights regarding eminent domain. Through nearly a 75 percent approval, the vote passed, requiring that eminent domain be used only for public use and prohibited its use for the following:
Protect your rights in condemnation proceedings
By hiring an attorney experienced in dealing with eminent domain issues, you can ensure you receive just compensation and also prevent governments from taking your property when it does not meet the requirements for public use. For effective legal help dealing with eminent domain and condemnation proceedings, contact the offices of James W. Hilldrup, PLC.