Henrico may condemn 7 more properties in roadway’s path

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico County is coming after seven more homes that sit in the way of the Gayton Road extension project. Both the county and landowners are trying to come to an agreement on value before the county ultimately must move toward condemnation.
The Gayton Road extension is meant to reduce traffic in the heavily congested far West End. Work is underway near Broad Street. It will eventually cross over Interstate 64, intersect Kain Road, and connect with Shady Grove Road. But some neighbors in the path won't sell their land.
There are a lot of fields at Striker Park, and its #11 that's in danger of being cut down. The organization that uses it is in talks to figure out just how much will have to go.
 "To give the analogy of a baseball game, 9 inning baseball game, we're in Spring Training at this point," said Scott Turner, Executive Director of the Richmond Strikers.
The field is located right next to Shady Grove Road, which will soon be expanded as part of the new Gayton Road extension. A wider road is good for people driving into a soccer complex; not so good for the homeowners losing a slice of their front yards.
"I have a great deal of empathy and sympathy for the individuals involved. It is a disruption. I wish we did not have to go through this. But, by the same token, the road is a necessity, it has been declared, it is for the public  good, therefore we must proceed," said Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett.
The government can take land in the public good as long as it pays fair market value. But seven more landowners have rejected the county's offers, which means both sides may have to let a court decide what the land is worth.
"If we simply can't reach agreement on value, that is what condemnation is all about, value of the property, we will continue those negotiations right up until the time we walk in that courtroom," Hazelett said.
Of the 62 parcels in the project's way, at least 18 are now moving toward condemnation according to Hazelett. While homeowners argue to keep their own land, others say the positive effect on traffic will be worth it.
"I don't think there's absolutely any question. We look forward to having this construction completed," Turner said.
There's a long way to go. Right now the work is focusing around Interstate 64, where they'll have to build a bridge. The entire project is not expected to be finished until April of 2012.
The county will consider moving forward with condemnation proceedings against seven additional properties at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors Meeting. It begins at 7:00 p.m. at the main government complex on Parham Road.
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