Eminent Domain Threatening Virginia Beach Church

Eminent Domain Threatening Virginia Beach Church

The City of Virginia Beach is planning a road project to realign Princess Anne Road.  In order to do so they will need to take one-half acre of property from the historical Emmanuel Episcopal Church.  The city has offered to give the church $850, 000 and adjoining parcels of land that amount to around 2 acres.  If the road is paved it will sit 70 feet away from the Church’s Daycare Center.

The congregation at Emmanuel Episcopal Church and their Reverend John Baldwin are not letting go quietly and other local churches are rallying behind them.  Their resounding battle cry is to protect the 170-year old church and its land.

In response to the protests the City of Virginia Beach released the following response:


At various points during negotiations, in exchange for approximately one-half acre of property needed for the new street and sidewalk, the City has offered to:

Give the church more than $850, 000


Give the church adjoining parcels of land consisting of between 1.5 and 2 acres with a usable commercial building. 

So far, an agreement has not been reached.

The half acre acquired for the new street and sidewalk consisted of a storm water pond and about 20 parking spaces, but none of the church building.

We are working to balance the interests of all the citizens of Virginia Beach, whose tax dollars are funding this settlement, against the need to preserve and protect a vital part of the Kempsville community.

There are numerous child care facilities – not to mention homes where children live – in this city that are less than 70 feet from streets. Those facilities are run safely, and the children in the homes are safe.  We have every confidence that the church will be able to do the same thing.

While we continue to talk about the proper amount of compensation, there is no disputing that the city will fairly compensate the church in some fashion.

At the time the church was told the project was not moving forward, it was not.  The project was on hold because there was no funding.  To get the project done,  the city asked the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the federal government for funds.  As a result, VDOT went through a public hearing process, presenting several alignments.  Following this public input, VDOT selected the current option.

The design and alignment of this intersection was determined by VDOT with community input.


If an agreement cannot be reached a trial will be set for this October.

We support the intent of Emmanuel Episcopal Church and their need to protect their facilities and congregation.  The Government’s attempt to mischaracterize the property that they are taking is typical.  The government must consider not only the property that they are taking but also the impact that the taking has on the remaining property.  An important part of representing property owners faced with a taking by the government includes understanding and explaining the damages to the property that was left behind.

As experienced condemnation attorneys we encourage the Government to reconsider the impact that their taking will have on the remaining property and fully and fairly compensate Emmanuel Episcopal Church in this project.  If the government is unwilling or unable to fairly compensate this church, then the good citizens of the jury will do so.

To follow this story visit Emmanuel Episcopal Church’s blog.