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Nov 28

Ending Virginia’s Parades and Festivals?

Posted on November 28, 2011 at 8:32 AM by Kirstyn Barr

Everyone loves a parade, especially our Vienna Halloween Parade, which celebrated its 65th anniversary this year. However, under legislation already endorsed once by the Virginia General Assembly (GA), parades and street festivals in Virginia could become prohibitively expensive, putting their future in doubt.

In an over-reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision, the GA is poised to add language to Virginia’s Constitution that would require property owners to be compensated for “lost profits and lost access.” Businesses could demand compensation for profits lost during a street repair, water line break or road closure for a special event. Even if judges might interpret the language as referring to only permanent closures, taxpayers would incur litigation costs and the risk of an unfavorable outcome.

The forced purchase of property by government from one private owner to re-sell to another, as in Kelo, has never been legal under Virginia law, and I don’t know any elected official who would change that. But this proposed amendment goes too far, creating disturbing consequences for governments and communities.

Certainly, some businesses lose profits during the parade, Viva!Vienna! and Oktoberfest. But these events help make Vienna a vibrant community, and contribute to increased profits overall. That’s why businesses are eager to locate here.

The GA will vote on HJR 693 again this year. Call or email your representatives, and tell them to vote NO. Save the Halloween Parade!

Email Senator Chap Petersen
Email Delegate Mark Keam

Councilwoman Edythe Frankel Kelleher
Vienna Town Council