Landowners take on Henrico County leaders on traffic project - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Landowners take on Henrico County leaders on traffic project

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

A Henrico landowner takes the county to court and wins. The case is over the North Gayton Road Extension project.

The landowner says the county shortchanged her when it came to paying for land she owned - and a jury agreed. Now two other similar lawsuits are coming forward.

Since finishing the extension, it's easing gridlock in Henrico's west end. But now, some  property owners are revving up their engines to take on county leaders.

Richmond-based Sterling Management already has. They say the piece of land that used to belong to them is worth significantly more than what the county offered. A jury agrees.

"The Sterlings were very pleased with the jury's verdict," says their lawyer, Joshua Baker.

Now - instead of the original offer of $126,000 - the county will give property owner, Emily Sterling, almost double that amount. Baker says this case is setting a precedent for two more property owners who say the county shortchanged them as well.

Hilton Davis Jr. and Shady Grove United Methodist Church are also suing. Part of Shady Grove Road used to belong to the church, but the county took it as part of the North Gayton Road extension project.

"It's very rare that people think they can fight City Hall, and we believe the Sterling's case shows you can contest City Hall and win!" says Baker.

The county deputy attorney, Tom Tokerz, says they came to a financial agreement with 57 other property owners needed for the project.  He says these three lawsuits are rare and a last resort.

"I've been here 32 years, I've actually only tried two condemnation cases," he said.

But he says the owners have a right to file suit.

"They're citizens of Henrico County and we like to reach an agreement if we possibly can," he said.

Both landowners could reach an agreement before the trial date. According to Baker, the church has a trial date in March, Davis has a trial date in June.

The property owners say they want people to know they were never against the extension project.

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