Eminent Domain Appeal Costing Taxpayers: WAVY-TV10 (Portsmouth VA), 2/6/08

Most 'eminent domain' cases you hear about are about how the government is taking land from people and not adequately compensating them.

This usually costs taxpayers thousands of dollars along the way in legal fees.

But in a Hampton Roads case, the landowners are the one's under fire. The landowners, Phillip and Theresa Young, believe their land is worth more than what the government is offering.

The case is hung up in the court system and it is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

VDOT Attorney Kelly Sheeran says they acquired a small sliver of the couple's land through eminent domain for the new Highway 17.

VDOT offered the Youngs $2,300 for the land based on an appraisal. The land acquired was about two-tenths of an acre.

The Youngs refused the offer. They claimed afterwards that losing that portion of their land prevented them from developing their property.

The city of Chesapeake confirmed that VDOT's acquisition did not prevent them from building a house on the remaining land.

VDOT increased their offer to $11,000 to save money and prevent the case from going to court. The couple refused that offer as well, and asked for $45,000.

In eminent domain cases, you can get a commission of area land owners to decide how much money you should get. The Youngs won the right to choose three of the five commissioners.

The commission unanimously voted in VDOT's favor, and said the Youngs were entitled to only $3,900.

The Youngs have appealed the decision.

WAVY News 10 tried to speak with the Youngs to hear their side of the story, but they refused the interview after speaking with their attorney.

Young's attorney Hank Howell said the appeal is based on a surprise VDOT witness he didn't know about. The witness claimed the company could tie into the drainage ditch to support their septic field in order to develop the property.

The Youngs court case could cost taxpayers more than $50,000 by the time it is resolved.

The appeal is pending.

WAVY-TV10: www.wavy.com