Eminent Domain in Crozet?

Maybe, maybe not. Spurred by an email from a reader:

Jarman Gap road widening improvements for 2009 – everyone agrees it’ll be nice, but did you know they’re probably taking eminent domain and taking land from the Crozet Methodist Church, as well as all the way down to Grayrock?  I live in Grayrock and several homeowners could lose 5-10 feet of their quarter acre lot!  There is likely to be a lot of protest to this, and more public awareness is better – will also affect Waylands Grant and Bargamin Park.

I contacted Allan Sumpter, Residency Administrator with the VDOT regarding the possibility of the Commonwealth using eminent domain along Jarman’s Gap. This is his response:

The Jarmans Gap roadway construction project is still in the design phase.  Since the inception of the project, an enormous amount of growth has occurred along Route 691 relatively quickly. This growth has made it necessary for VDOT to go back and acquire additional survey information to reflect the physical changes that have occurred along the roadway.  Presently, our design team is working to update plans that reflect how these physical changes into the roadway design.  Thus, the project has not reached the right-of-way phase. 

I’d like to explain how this process works.  Once design is complete on a project plans are submitted to our Central Office in Richmond for approval to proceed to the right-of-way acquisition phase.  This phase includes all necessary property acquisitions, temporary and permanent construction easements and utility easements. When approval is granted, our right-of-way section is given clearance to begin.  Each affected property is appraised by a licensed appraiser.  After the appraisal is complete, a negotiation agent contacts the property owner to arrange a meeting to present them with an offer on what VDOT needs to acquire for the project.  This may include more than one visit.  If and when the offer is accepted, legal documents are drawn up to complete the transaction and the property owner is paid.  In cases where all attempts to reach an agreement have failed VDOT will then make a decision to proceed to use the power of eminent domain.  A “certificate” is filed with the court system and upon court approval, VDOT can then proceed with the project.  A final agreement on what the property owner is paid is made through that system.

As I explained, the project is not yet to this phase.  Initial data indicates there are 105 property owners affected on the project. The exact acreage from each to construct the project varies.  This information is listed on the plans and will be available once the plans are completed.  Therefore, it is not possible for me to provide exact figures to you at this time.  If all goes well, the project is appears to be headed to the right-of-way phase this Fall.  Right-of-way agents would then start contacting property owners with specifics at that time.  I hope this information clarifies this process.  As for construction, we hope that construction will be ongoing during the 2009 construction season. (ed. note: bolding mine)

I hope this information is useful. If you have questions, please let me know.

Allan Sumpter
Residency Administrator

More information on the status of the Jarman’s Gap project at Cville Tomorrow, and at Albemarle County’s website (and here).

The question is this – do the road improvements that will benefit the community supersede the property rights of the landowners? 

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5 Replies to “Eminent Domain in Crozet?”

  1. This is an important issue that involves all of us living out here on Jarmans Gap Rd. I can’t wait for the improvements, but I strongly feel that the widening/improvements of the road needs to be equally divided on both sides – my understanding is that its the north side of Jarman’s Gap road which will be requiring land acquisition – ie, Grayrock, Waylands Grant, Bargamin Park – with no land being effected on the Old Trail side – that just doesn’t seem fair at all and I think we need to know exactly why that is.

  2. There seems to be a lot happening under the radar in Crozet these days; Tabor Street is covered with orange dashes and there is a stake with a pink ribbon in the parking lot of the Tabor Church. What does this mean? The men who put the stake in the church parking lot were driving an unmarked maroon pickup truck, so who knows what survey it’s for? I feel in some ways that we are just sitting ducks for growth/change that we haven’t been told about.

  3. Callen –

    Take an equal amount of land from both sides? That seems fair.

    Callen – hopefully this blog will help inform people about issues. This eminent domain post was itself generated from an email from a reader.

  4. I am a LIFETIME resident of Charlottesville/Crozet. I am I am vehemently against eminent domain! I can’t just decide to take over my neighbors yard so that my life will be easier, so my kids will have more room to play, etc… No one should have that right. We have to stop this now or Crozet will not be any longer be the desirable place to live–it will just be “little cville” but an extra 15 minutes away!

  5. Jim, we are being told that the stakes with striped red and white ribbons are being used as “points of reference”. Not exactly sure what that means but there it is.

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