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May 19th, 2010 — By — In News & Events

Update: Virginia business fighting blight and eminent domain to keep its property

The news report featured below aired on May 18, 2010 on WAVY-TV 10 (Portsmouth, VA).

Norfolk businessman fights NRHA, ODU
Andy Fox
(excerpted from the transcript)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Central Radio Company has been fixing communication systems for the Navy for decades, but now Old Dominion University, through the Norfolk Redevelopment Housing Authority (NRHA), wants the property on 39th Street for retail shopping.On Thursday, a Bob Wilson, owner of Central Radio, will begin to fight in court to keep his business. The timing of the court battle coincides with a new Virginia law that takes effect on July 1: You cannot take property that is not blighted.

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Disclosure: Virginia OCA Member, Joe Waldo, is defending Central Radio Company in this eminent domain proceeding against the NRHA and Old Dominion University (ODU).

Mr. Waldo will argue on behalf of Central Radio Company and its owner, Bob Wilson, that the property is not blighted and therefore should not be taken by eminent domain for a redevelopment project. However, as the current Virginia law regarding blight remains on the books and legal precedent is stacked against the property owner, Mr. Waldo and Central Radio have a tough legal battle ahead.

In a 2009 eminent domain case, NRHA v. Arney, the court found that the condition of the property being condemned did not matter. Blighted or not – “if an area…is subject to rehabilitation the condition of a single structure is immaterial.” Additionally, Norfolk Circuit Judge Louis Sherman concluded in his 29-page July 2009 opinion that the transfer of private property – whether blighted, economically profitable, or not – to another private entity by a public authority using its power of eminent domain was simply insignificant. Judge Sherman wrote, “…making property available for redevelopment by private enterprise is merely incidental.”

In the case of Central Radio, Mr. Waldo will argue that the ruling in Arny does not apply as the area surrounding the Central Radio property is no longer blighted and redevelopment to eliminate blight is not longer needed nor a public purpose under Virginia law.