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As many parts of the nation experience and react to a renewed demand for convenient urban living, certain rural areas are also taking steps to promote denser development and conserve open land. Responding to a legislation from the Virginia General Assembly, Caroline County is considering such zoning regulations that would allow rural single family subdivisions to build clusters of homes on smaller lots rather than having to abide by the current minimum 10-acre lot requirement. (more…)
In 2009 Virginia passed a law that allows localities to declare a structure “derelict” and require that its owner submit a plan within 90 days to repair or demolish the structure or challenge the designation. Properties can be considered derelict if it “might endanger the public’s health, safety or welfare” and has been vacant and without utilities for six months or more. Owners who complete the plan receive a 15-year transferable real estate tax abatement equal to the cost of the repairs or demolition. Under the law, the city can demolish the derelict building if the owner fails to submit a plan. To fund any demolitions, the city can also place a lien on the land where the building stood. (more…)
The General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the so called “eminent domain” bill today. The legislation will make it harder for municipalities to take private land. The Senate vote was 23-17 in favor and the House was 80-18 in favor. We have talked about this piece of legislation in previous posts. Proponents hailed the passage as a next step in protecting private property while opponents see it has hampering economic development opportunities. (more…)
The Virginia General Assembly is set to convene this week for its biannual 60-day session. On the docket is a joint piece of legislation that will completely redefine property rights in the Commonwealth. The legislation, sponsored by Del. Robert Bell (R – Charlotesville) and Sen. Mark Obenshain (R – Harrisonburg) seeks a constitutional amendment that would redefine eminent domain language. The goal of the bill is to make it more difficult for municipalities and other entities to seize private property. Since 2005 when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that governments have the power to seize property for economic development purposes in Kelo v. City of New London, Virginia legislators have been promoting a constitutional amendment which would make this practice illegal in Virginia. Now they almost have it. (more…)