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Vote 'yes' on Q. 1
That alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.
ON NOV. 6, Virginians will be asked to vote yea or nay on Question 1, an amendment to the state constitution protecting private property rights. Anyone who is unsure of which circle to fill in should consider the case of Spotsylvania County's Dale Swanson.
Ms. Swanson's bucolic 6-acre spread is all that remains of land that's been in her family for 200 years. It lies behind the Spotsylvania Towne Centre and, according to county officials six years ago, straight in the path of "progress."
The mall's owner, the Cafaro Co., had presented plans for expansion. Immediately, visions of an enlarged commercial district and a new road connecting from the south began dancing in county officials' heads. So they made construction of the Harrison Road Connector a condition of their approval. Ms. Swanson's property, including a pond and her mother's burial site, were inconveniently in the way. But no matter: The county moved forward anyway, dreaming of new tax revenue. County nabobs created a "Community Development Authority" and a special tax district encompassing Ms. Swanson's and other nearby properties to pay for the road, anticipating that when these owners sold their newly designated commercial land they'd reap a huge windfall.
But Ms. Swanson disagreed with the county's plans for her land. She didn't want to sell it; she wanted to live on it. So she barred surveyors from her property and met bulldozers with resistance. She also rallied her neighbors, eventually collecting more than 500 signatures against the county's actions. Public hearings on the issue were raucous.
Eventually, Ms. Swanson won (the county abruptly abandoned plans for the road in 2009), but not before bulldozers and barges had invaded her property and damaged it--damage for which she is now suing the county. In November 2011, the county, without admitting responsibility, offered her $20,000 in compensation with just one little catch: She must promise "not to oppose any further study of or the construction of the subject road."