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Eminent domain makes citizen feel helpless

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GUEST EDITORIAL

By Sandra J. Felts, Woodlawn

I am grateful that the eminent domain amendment to Virginia’s Constitution passed.
My front lawn and those of my father and brother are going to be condemned by the Virginia Department of Transportation, for we do not want to sell our property.
I feel helpless, and even though I am a landowner, I feel as if I own nothing. A four-lane road is going to be built into the proposed Wildwood Commerce Park in Carroll County, and there is nothing there.
The road was planned to go past my house. Because of citizens’ protests, it was stopped. Then I gave a speech to the Carroll Board of Supervisors, pleading not to take my land.
In less than 24 hours, VDOT decided to decrease by half the amount of property it wanted to take. After VDOT changed road plans twice, I know that this so-called upgrade is not necessary.
Wait until there is a need for something, before you waste taxpayers’ dollars and take landowners’ property away from them.
The two-lane road in front of my house does not need to be upgraded. The only reason that it is planned is to help sell the property at Wildwood, which is mostly privately owned.
I don’t understand how eminent domain can be exercised, since Wildwood is for economic development.
The state amendment states that no more property than that absolutely necessary for public use could be taken.
Who decides this? There is money available to do this unneeded upgrade, yet the newly built prison in Independence cannot open because of lack of money. Jobs would be created if this facility opened.
If VDOT upgraded roads before there was a need, then Virginia would have the greatest road system in America.
This is what it really boils down to. Carroll County received funds, which must be spent on this road project.
Even though there is a four-lane practically into the entrance of the empty Wildwood, except for approximately 100 feet, certain Carroll officials want the four-lane to go past the entrance. Then it will taper back to two lanes.
When and if anything is built there, the majority of the traffic will come from the west, which includes traffic from the airport and Interstate 77.
Traffic from the east past my house will be on the least-traveled route. Everyone that I have talked with doesn’t know what to think of this project.
They all say: “Why don’t they wait until something is built there and see if there is a need to improve this country road?”
I wish the public could see all of this. My land shouldn’t be taken away from me just so someone else can make money.
Who would want a drainage ditch in the front lawn, with VDOT having permanent access to clean out? I have to live with this for the rest of my life.
As I watch the American flag being raised up the flagpole, it represents freedom and our rights of living in a democratic society.
Yet, when a person’s land can be taken away for no need, it makes me question living in a democratic society.