Two proposed amendments to the Virginia constitution will be on the ballot this November—one concerning eminent domain and the other dealing with the general assembly’s veto session.
Del. Keith Hodges (R-Urbanna) co-sponsored the amendment proposed for the statute on eminent domain, which is the government’s right to take property. It states that eminent domain will only be used when the property that’s to be taken or damaged is for public use, except when it involves utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance.
Under the proposed change, property taken by the commonwealth can’t be used for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise or economic development. It also couldn’t be used for the purpose of increasing jobs, tax revenue or economic development, and the condemner would have to prove that the use would be public.
Hodges said there had been an instance in a Virginia locality in which people’s homes had been taken to allow a developer to build a mall.
"They generate huge profits off of that," he said. "The land may have been in your family for generations and they want to come along and seize it for a shopping mall. We want to prevent that type of thing from happening. The founding fathers didn’t intend for the country to be like that."