Roanoke property dispute near Carilion's Riverside Center stirs call for change among lawmakersIf the boundless power of eminent domain isn't frightening enough, the fact that the Roanoke housing authority - and this judge - decreed the Burkholders' property to be in an area that was blighted (as opposed to being a blighted property) and therefore was fair game for seizure should scare you to death. Even if you have the nicest, best-kept home in the neighborhood, if that neighborhood is deemed to be run-down, you're out on the street should some nameless, faceless bureaucrat deem it so.
By Laurence Hammack and Mason Adams, Roanoke Times
The condemnation of property in Roanoke without a particular plan for its use has some legislators talking about changing Virginia's constitution.
"It points out the need that we have more work to do," said Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, who was closely involved in tightening eminent domain laws two years ago to make it more difficult for governments to take land.
Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax County, said that when he takes over as attorney general next year, he will support a constitutional amendment to make the changes more lasting.
"This is the kind of thing that constitutions are supposed to protect us from," Cuccinelli said of the recent condemnation of land that sits in the shadow of Carilion Clinic's Riverside Center.
The controversial process took a new turn this week when officials at Carilion said they had no interest in the property, which is currently the site of a flooring business on Reserve Avenue.
Although Carilion said it never included the 3-acre tract in its plans for an office complex and medical school, property owners Jay and Stephanie Burkholder dispute that.
The Burkholders contend that Carilion, which struck a deal with the city 10 years ago to redevelop the area, was the driving force behind the condemnation of their land by the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
Glenda Edwards, executive director of the authority, also said it was her understanding that Carilion had expressed an interest in the land within the past two or three years.
A judge approved the condemnation last month, ruling the authority properly found that the area surrounding the Burkholders' property was blighted. The next step is for a jury to determine how much the couple should be paid for their land. [link] [emphasis mine]
Every property in Bland County, Virginia, where I live, falls into that nebulous category. Every one. I and every one of my neighbors are all subject to property seizure. Or were, had the law not been amended.
This has to stop. Now. Or
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Even the Roanoke Times editorial team - no enemy of Big Government - is astounded that the city is trying to seize this property for no reason.