In Ottofaro v. City of Hampton, the Virginia Supreme Court heard a case in which the City of Hampton condemned the property of private landowners, Frank and Dana Ottofaro. A small portion of the condemned property was to serve as a road. The residue of the land was to be transferred to the Hampton Industrial Development Authority, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Two months after the condemnation decision was made, the Development Authority entered into an agreement with a commercial development project for the use of the former Ottofaro land as part of a retail shopping center ... the court nonetheless upheld the condemnation of the Ottofaro property against a challenge that it constituted an illegitimate “taking” for private use.
Alabama recently passed a law prohibiting any county or municipality from condemning property for any commercial development purpose. It would be wise for Virginia, and other states, to follow Alabama's lead and protect the property rights of homeowners from unjust takings within their states.
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