Eminent Domain in Albemarle County

If you can find time in your schedule, please consider attending the Albemarle County Planning Commission’s meeting this evening at 6pm. They will be discussing, among other things, another approval for part of the Old Trail development in Crozet.

The Jefferson Area Libertarians have this one covered, pretty well, and I wrote about it last week.

Read the entire article at the JAL site, but here is a snip –

Albemarle County and the developer have essentially created a situation where they can just wait Mr. Minnerly’s family out.  If he ever thinks about selling, they know he will have trouble selling it to anyone but the County, and that the County won’t have to pay full market value since no one else wants it.  And if the County grows impatient, they can just seize it through eminent domain.

Paul Minnerly has taken it on himself to not let this happen quietly.  But he’s not just complaining about the situation, he’s attempted to find alternative solutions with the developer and County.  The problem is, they’re not interested in listening.  He has drafted an alternate exit from Old Trail that would not require using any land the developer doesn’t already own, and doesn’t requiring selling any fewer lots than the developer was planning.  He even got verbal approval from VDOT that his plan would work.  Sounds like a win-win right?

Nope.  The County appears to think its more important to adhere to their “Master Plan” requiring interconnecting neighborhood roads, and the developer has told Mr. Minnerly that any connection he has to build to Jarmans Gap Road will cost a lot more money and he doesn’t want to pay it.

This sounds like yet another argument for the County to have some flexibility to their vaunted Neighborhood Model. JAL has a press release as well.

Eminent Domain should be used solely as a last resort. Where there are viable alternatives to stripping someone of their own property and rights, these alternatives should be strongly considered. It should be that simple.

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Another snip from their press release –

Because the developer’s proposed road must be built nearly to the edge of the Minnerly property, and clearly pointed across it as an unfinished road, it is a clear threat to the Minnerly property and will make it very difficult for them to ever sell to anyone but the County in the future.  And once the homes are built according to the developer’s proposal, the County would have no choice but to use eminent domain to complete the road in the future.

This is a situation where eminent domain can very clearly be prevented now with only minor modifications to the plat, flexibility in Master Plan guidelines, and with some basic respect for private property rights displayed by the County.  (Bolding mine)

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