Letters to the Editor: January 4 – 10, 2018
F.C. Has Stated No Need or Plan for Fellows Property
I have written an open letter to the Falls Church City Council:
Falls Church City has not posted an agenda for the City Council meeting on Jan. 8, but I have heard that one item on the agenda is the taking by eminent domain of land that is the property of the Fellows family. Taking personal property is a serious action, and it is justified only if it is necessary (i.e. there is no reasonable alternative) to serve the greater good of the community.
The City has not stated a need. Apparently, there is none.
The City has not revealed a plan. Apparently, there is none.
The City has not informed the citizens that the serious matter of using eminent domain is being considered.
The City took steps a few months ago to designate this private property as park land, possibly for use by the school. I have not heard of any plan for the school system to use the land, and this land would seem to be ill suited for school use — being across busy S. Oak Street from Thomas Jefferson Elementary and being sloping terrain. It appeared to me at the time that the unrequested re-designation of the land was a transparent attempt to degrade the value of the land so that it could be taken by eminent domain at a price below normal market value. At the time, I told the City Council this, but the Council followed the recommendation of the City Manager and approved the re-designation by a near unanimous vote, Mr. Sze casting the only vote against the action.
This is a serious matter. The citizens should be informed of the proposal and should have an opportunity to express their approval or disapproval. Under the current conditions — no use, no plan, no need — the taking by eminent domain might even be illegal.
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