Thursday, July 12, 2012

Latest Property Rights Outrage in Virginia

By Rob Bell
Delegate, 58th District

This is why we need a Property Rights Amendment to the Virginia Constitution!

As reported on Fox News, the City of Norfolk is trying to use eminent domain to take the property of businessman Bob Wilson.

I recently met with Wilson and he explained that his business has been in Norfolk for 78 years.  The City is trying to take his private property in the name of “economic development,” and apparently intends to redevelop the parcel as a commercial project that will possibly include a movie theater.

Now, I have no problem if Wilson wants to sell his property to someone else.  But the City shouldn’t be able to force him to give it up.  His company is successful.  His building isn’t blighted.   The City just wants someone else to own it.

This is outrageous.  Eminent domain should be used sparingly, and only where the property to be taken is necessary for a true public use, like a road.

As in the Obamacare case, conservatives have found that they cannot always depend on the Supreme Court to protect our Constitutional rights.  The good news is that this year we can do something about it.

For years, I have fought alongside Ken Cuccinelli and others to get add additional property rights to the Virginia Constitution.  We were unsuccessful in 2007, 2009, and 2010, but this last year the General Assembly passed my House Joint Resolution, which would amend the Constitution to stop eminent domain abuses like this one.

How can you help?

1.       Sign Online Petition for Constitutional Amendment:  If it passes, the Amendment would limit eminent domain takings to true public use.  (It also adds other protections.)  You can support the Amendment by signing the online petition here. We will send you additional information on how to advocate for its passage.

2.       Support Bob Wilson: Even if it passes, the Amendment will likely be too late to help Bob Wilson.  He is pursuing his rights in court, but the simplest solution would be for the City of Norfolk to withdraw its efforts to take his property.  A simple e-mail asking the City to let Bob keep his property might help.  You can e-mail the City at

Thank you for your interest in defending the Constitution and private property rights.  With your help, we are making a difference.

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