J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · September 12, 2013


Virginia Supreme Court Strikes Down Attempt To Take Central Radio’s Land; IJ Continues Fight To Vindicate Central Radio’s Right To Protest Eminent Domain Abuse


In a major victory for property rights, on Thursday, September 12, 2013, the Virginia Supreme Court
held that the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority could not take the properties of several Norfolk institutions, including IJ client Central Radio.  Norfolk land use attorney Joe Waldo argued that under a Virginia law the Institute for Justice helped enact in 2007, the Authority had to take ownership of properties like Central Radio’s by July 1, 2010.  The Virginia Supreme Court agreed and held that when that date passed, so too did the authority’s power to condemn. 

The authority’s land grab had nothing to do with redeveloping run-down properties and everything to do with lining the pockets of a local heavy hitter.  Everyone agreed that Central Radio and the other targeted properties were in fine shape, but the Old Dominion University Real Estate Foundation wanted that land for itself, so it paid the authority a bounty for each property that it seized and turned over.  Thankfully, this ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court puts the final nail in the coffin for private-to-private development in the Commonwealth.

But Central Radio’s rights are not yet fully secure.  Shortly after putting up a protest banner criticizing the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the City of Norfolk told Central Radio that it either had to take down the banner or face fines of up to $1,000 per day.  How did Norfolk learn of the banner?  Because a senior executive at the ODU Real Estate Foundationthe very entity that wanted to Central Radio’s land for itselfhad complained.

The Institute for Justice came to Central Radio’s defense by filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the City of Norfolk in federal court.  That case is currently before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and could potentially end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Thanks to the advocacy of attorney Joe Waldo, the Virginia Supreme Court has halted Norfolk’s trampling of Central Radio’s property rights.  The Institute for Justice will not rest until the courts halt Norfolk’s trampling of Central Radio’s free speech rights, as well.