Dec '23

Virginia Beach judge declares mistrial in eminent domain case of City v. church – News 3 WTKR Norfolk

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A Circuit Court judge in Virginia Beach declared a mistrial on Thursday in an eminent domain case involving the City of Virginia Beach and The Gathering at Scott Memorial United Methodist Church.
Jurors were picked on Wednesday and they toured the church on First Colonial Road near I-264.
It’s not clear exactly why a mistrial was declared; however, News 3’s Angela Bohon asked a lawyer representing the City and the church andboth said it was no fault of either side.
“Unfortunately after a lot of months, years actually, of preparation and having multiple expert witnesses on both sides – to no parties’ fault of either party, there was evidently an issue that came up after the viewing of the subject property of the church yesterday, and the judge granted our mistrial,” explained Kelly Sheeran who’s representing Scott Memorial. “We made the motion for a mistrial. We wanted to make sure that the church as well as the City has a fair opportunity to be heard, and we just couldn’t move forward. I think the judge made the correct decision.”
A spokesperson for the City of Virginia Beach wrote in a statement:
“The City is in the process of constructing improvements to First Colonial Road and Virginia Beach Boulevard which will enhance the capacity at the intersection, expand mobility for motorists and pedestrians, and improve drainage and stormwater capacity in the area. As part of the Project, the City acquired a nominal area in front of Scott Memorial Church in order to widen a grass buffer strip and a sidewalk, both of which are currently substandard to meet today’s design guidelines. We believe that our estimate of value was appropriate and rely upon our experts who found that the modest widening of the sidewalk and buffer would not affect the value or the utility of the church. We look forward to the opportunity to allow citizens of the City to weigh the evidence and render a verdict in due course.”
Watch previous coverage: Traffic improvements in Virginia Beach lead to eminent domain case with church
Sheeran says that the City’s appraiser recommended offering $28,855.00 and that the church’s appraiser believes it should be awarded $720,966.00. That amount, Sheeran says, includes costs to build a new entrance and adjust the sanctuary, as well as the proposed estimate to build a barrier wall.
The trial was expected to take two days.
It will be rescheduled. The judge said it would likely be after the holidays.
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