The Virginia state legislature has passed SB301 which will protect some owner rights when property is seized by the state or its divisions through eminent domain.

Property owners, however, will have to wait a while before they obtain any kind of relief. The bill provides that when property is seized by any state government agency and has not been put to the public use for which is was seized after a period of 15 years; the property owner must be offered a chance to repurchase it. The offering price must be the original sale price plus interest at 6 percent per year. The government may also adjust the price to reflect any improvements it has made to the property. For the sake of the former owner, one can only hope that the improvements were positive, not, for example, a half finished hydroelectric dam or a clear cut hardwood forest.

Governor Mark Warner signed the bill this week and it will go into effect on July 1.