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Jury awards Norva Plastics more than $3.75 million in eminent domain trial

Updated: December 14, 2012 - 10:22 am

Posted: December 12, 2012

By Lydia Wheeler

Norva Plastics Inc. will get about $1.5 million more than the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority was willing to pay in court. 

A five-member jury of land owners awarded Howard Everton $3,756,250 in just compensation of the eminent domain trial against the NRHA at Norfolk Circuit Court on Wednesday.

Norva Plastics, an international plastics fabricator and supplier of industrial plastics, and Central Radio Co., which supplies communication systems, were two of four properties condemned by the NRHA through eminent domain to make room for the expansion of University Village, a mixed use development near the Old Dominion University.

Combined, the businesses have been in Norfolk 140 years.

Norva Plastics, located at 3911 Killam Ave., has one building on the property totaling 34,689 square-feet, which was first built in 1955, added onto in 1964 and remodeled in 2002. NRHA assessed the property, zoned light industrial, at $2.08 million when it first condemned the property.

In court, however, NRHA’s attorney, Don Schultz, presented a higher assessment of $2.24 million when the trial began last Monday.

Everton’s attorney, Joe Waldo, said the jury’s verdict is about $1.7 million over what NRHA was first willing to pay and about $1.5 million over what they were willing to pay in court.

In the courtroom after the trial, Schultz said he had no comment on the outcome of the case. NRHA spokesman Ed Ware said he also couldn’t comment on Wednesday’s results.

“It will certainly be discussed at our Board of Commissioners meeting tomorrow at 8 a.m.,” he said Wednesday night.

Waldo, however, said the jury’s verdict shows the housing authority wanted to take the property for cheap and sell it to a developer.

Though Everton was pleased with the jury’s decision saying, “The little guy won for once,” he said no amount of money will be enough to compensate him for the loss of his property through eminent domain.

“For Howard Everton it was never about money,” Waldo said. “It’s about what is right.”

In November, Virginian voters passed a constitutional amendment that bars property from being taken for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, to create jobs, increase the tax revenue or for economic development. The amendment also requires businesses to be compensated for lost profits.

The new law does not take effect until Jan. 1.

Now that the just compensation of the eminent domain trial has concluded, Norva Plastics will appeal the February 2011 decision allowing the NRHA to seize the property.

The Virginia Supreme Court will decide in February whether to hear the appeal.

The just compensation trial for Central Radio, Waldo said, is also scheduled for February.

Waldo said Central Radio will not be able to claim business losses. Properties seized through eminent domain prior to Jan. 1, he said, are not grandfathered in.