Monday, August 08, 2005

Freedom & Prosperity Agenda

The Freedom & Prosperity Agenda contains 11 planks, details of which may be found here. One which is of high importance is redefining, or defining more clearly, the phrase, "public use." The Supreme Court's approval of the expansion of "public use" in the recent Kelo v. New London case poses a threat to property owners throughout the United States. Defining public use on a state level helps to protect homeowners from having their home condemned and confiscated, then transferred to more politically powerful individuals or businesses. Contrary to popular belief that Kelo represents the first time government has used its power of eminent domain to transfer property from one individual to a private company, an article at the Virginia Institute for Public Policy website by Donald J. Kochan, J.D., addresses a case in Virginia in 2003, two years prior to the Kelo decision:
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.

If you live in Virginia and are interested in supporting the Freedom & Prosperity Agenda, find out how at this site or send me an email.

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