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Property seizure presents problems

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GUEST EDITORIAL

By Sandra Felts, Austinville

As a law-abiding citizen, I never thought that I would be threatened with a restraining order by an attorney.
This is exactly what has happened. Martha White Medley, an attorney with the law firm of Daniel, Medley and Kirby in Martinsville, represents the Virginia Department of Transportation, which is seeking to seize a portion of property away from my family.
We do not want to sell any of our property for a road project that is not needed.
I have been told that it is next to impossible to stop a road. This is no road project. A four-lane is proposed to be built into a development, which is mostly privately owned.
There is nothing located in the development. It is empty. The four-lane will be tapered back into the existing two-lane Virginia 620.
This is why a portion of my front yard is going to be seized from me. By the way, a drainage ditch is going to be built in my yard. This goes totally against the eminent domain amendment that voters of Virginia voted to add to Virginia’s Constitution last November.
Recently, surveyors representing VDOT came to my father’s, my brother’s and my front lawns to drive tall stakes. I politely ask them to leave, telling them that I did not want tall stakes in my front yard. I told them that I knew that they were working for VDOT and that I did not hold them personally responsible.
Shortly afterwards, I received a copy of the letter from Ms. Medley.  Due to my lack of knowledge of the legal system and the Code of Virginia, I thought that VDOT would need some type of order or paper before they traipsed onto my property to drive stakes wherever they wanted.
I should have known better. One day when I arrived home from work and surveyors were on my front porch surveying. I asked them, “Who gave you permission to be on my property?” They replied, “The state of Virginia.”
As landowners, we truly do not own anything.  It can be taken away from us at any time.
It is the “American Dream” to own a house with a front lawn, but this dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.  I know that peoples’ property is taken away from them every day.
I sure hope that it is for a worthwhile project and that is needed and not wasting taxpayers’ dollars.  It may make the seizing of one’s property easier to bear.
I have written letters/commentary in the past, but I find it amazing that an attorney can go to court for a restraining order against a law-abiding citizen. I find something wrong in this scenario.
Will I be able to go to my mailbox when VDOT’s agents or contractors are in my front yard? Will I be able to mow my grass when they are here? Will I be able to sweep my front porch when they are here? Or, will I have to sit in the confines of my home?
Readers, I will keep you informed of the progress of my dilemma.  By doing this, I hope my writing may shed light on an injustice that, hopefully, will not happen to them one day.