Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Veto of Bill for the Relief of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas V. Compton.

June 18, 1956

To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith, without my approval, H. R. 1866, a bill "For the relief of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas V. Compton."

The purpose of this bill is to provide to Mr. and Mrs. Compton the payment of $6,000 as compensation for loss of business and decline in the market value of their business by reason of the relocation of United States Highway 15 at Clarksville, Virginia.

The relocation of the highway was accomplished incidental to the development and construction of the John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir project on the Roanoke River. Although the portion of United States Highway No. 15 adjacent to the Compton property has not been physically altered and is usable and accessible from the relocated highway, the severance of the highway by flooding of the reservoir several miles distant has resulted in a diversion of potential traffic and a decline in the use of the roadway. As a consequence there has been some diminution in value of commercial properties adjacent to that portion of the unused highway.

The Compton property consists of 4.7 acres of land with a service station, grocery store, and trailer parking lot. The decrease in traffic led to the loss of business which in turn resulted in an undetermined diminution in the value of the property for commercial use. There is no basis in law for compensating the Comptons and others similarly situated whose property is not taken in whole or in part for public purposes.

Decline as well as increase in property values goes on as an everyday matter, attributable to many factors commonly recognized by property owners. Relocation of highways and streets is necessitated by sundry causes and is one of such factors. The relocation of the segment of highway here involved results from a public work performed by the Federal Government, but this could as well be a claim arising through action of a state, county, municipality or township, or a sewer or drainage district. In all such cases, compensation is paid for property taken but not for consequential damage to property not taken, such as decline in the value of property due to a change effected in the neighborhood.

To make payments of the kind provided by this bill would, in essence, make the Government the guarantor of the stability of property or business values. This can best be illustrated by instances in which highway relocation projects have resulted not only in the by-passing of individual properties but by the bypassing of entire towns. It becomes quite evident in such situations that the Government cannot indemnify every businessman or property owner in such towns against loss by reason of changes of community pattern. It would be no more reasonable to expect the Government to do so than it would be to expect those who benefit from such changes to make voluntary payments to the Government in proportion to their gains.

For these reasons, I have withheld my approval from this measure.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill for the Relief of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas V. Compton. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232932

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