Letter: VMRC regulation is ‘politically correct theft’
The rights of a renter of state-owned bottom are spelled out in the Code of Virginia: A leaseholder’s interest in oyster grounds are "chattels real" and as such are generally held to be within the intendment of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Contradicting that principle, the VMRC put into effect a regulation concerning the presence of submerged grasses on a lease, preventing a leaseholder from using vegetated bottom for the purpose it was granted—the cultivation of shellfish.
Effectively, this placed the bottom back into the public domain, a regulatory taking without due process or compensation. And that, thanks to Dr. Robert Orth of VIMS, is hard-knuckled, one-sided environmentalism; i.e., legalized, politically correct theft.
But, isn’t the value of those grassy areas such that the benefits exceed the public and private benefits of growing shellfish? By no means. Then again, is any taking, no matter how worthwhile the cause may seem, justified?
When a state agency ignores its own law, turns its back on the U.S. Constitution, its head commissioner uses an illegal regulation against a citizen of the state, it’s time for change.
George B. DeMarco