Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership Leads Growing Statewide Effort to Defeat Proposed Constitutional Amendment On Eminent Domain
Proposed Eminent Domain Constitutional Amendment threatens Economic Development, Infrastructure Investment and Job Creation
The Partnership supports responsible use of eminent domain in instances where the rights of property owners are balanced with the rights of entities with existing eminent domain authority. However, the Partnership strongly opposes including eminent domain restrictions in Virginia’s Constitution.
Tony Howard, President and CEO of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, stated, “all Virginians agree that private property rights are fundamental; however, the proposed Constitutional amendment suffers from serious flaws that have the potential to stop critical infrastructure in its tracks, thereby jeopardizing Virginia’s economic recovery.”
There are serious concerns that many projects to extend infrastructure, including sewer, water, gas and roads, to enable and promote economic development would be jeopardized if the proposed Constitutional amendment was in place. In addition, the proposed amendment will create substantial uncertainty as to the viability of major transportation and vital public and private infrastructure projects, which are particularly critical in northern Virginia. Every highway or infrastructure project in the Commonwealth is linked to improving the ability to move goods and services efficiently.
Mark Ingrao, President and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber added, “in the current unprecedented economic climate, Virginia can ill afford to negatively impact its competitiveness with other states in attracting economic development that could provide much needed jobs for Virginia residents.”
ThePartnership also has significant concerns that the Constitutional amendment will create uncertainty regarding the definition of public use, would could jeopardize future economic development projects and business expansions, as well as having a major chilling effect on any future public-private partnership proposals, which again, are very important in the transportation arena.
The other concern is that the “lost profits” and “lost access” provisions in the amendment will significantly increase project costs and create yet more uncertainty in the business community. The proposed amendment authorizes the General Assembly to define the terms “lost profits” and “lost access;” however, no definition can remove what is outlined in the Constitutional amendment, eliminating the flexibility and authority the General Assembly currently has. In other words, because of the language in the Constitutional amendment, related issues cannot be fixed by statute.
“The Partnership has clearly outlined its goals as being to promote a strong, pro-business environment that enhances Virginia’s and the Northern Virginia region’s economic competitiveness, cultivates growth in all segments of our economy, and ensures adequate access to critical business infrastructure and resources,” said Eileen Curtis, President and CEO of the Dulles Regional Chamber. “We believe the eminent domain Constitutional amendment is a direct threat to these goals.”
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership is actively working with other business groups, including the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, NVBIA, the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, NAIOP Northern Virginia, and the Northern Virginia and Dulles Area Associations of Realtors, among other statewide business groups and entities from other regions of the Commonwealth that are listed on the attached document.
“We look forward to working with our legislators to ensure a solution can be identified to protect the business community from the threats we believe the proposed amendment would create,” said Ingrao.
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnershiprepresents more than 2,800 businesses and 100,000 jobs, and is focused on enhancing a strong pro-business environment in Northern Virginia, and the Commonwealth as a whole.
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