ASHBURN, Va. - Eminent domain is threatening one family in Loudoun County. They could lose several acres of their land to a new four-lane road.
The homeowner is upset because he says the state is siding with a private investor and claims Virginia will use the so-called "quick-take” power, in which the state doesn't notify the homeowner of when they will seize their property.
Every day, the owners of this Loudoun County home watch as Virginia Department of Transportation crews begin construction of a new road. They wait knowing it is only a matter of time before they cross onto their property and seize part of their land – whether the homeowners agree to it or not.
“I have been trying to protect my home and I have been unsuccessful,” said Mehdi Pahlevani.
For years, Pahlevani has been at the center of a battle over the new road that will lead to a new shopping and business center. The problem is the road will go straight through his 11-acre property.
“We worked really hard to reach my American dreams and I did get to that point by working hard and having goals in my life,” said Pahlevani.
Now, he feels he could lose part of that American dream because VDOT will seize an acre and a half of his land for the road. But he will actually lose a total of four acres.
In a statement, VDOT told FOX 5:
“When a project is being planned, VDOT works closely with residents and drivers to take public input into consideration, and also closely with homeowners to minimize impacts as much as possible.”
At one point, the road was scheduled to run straight through Pahlevani’s living room.
“It was like somebody taking a knife and stabbing it in my heart,” he said. “They told me you have to move out.”
VDOT told FOX 5 they have tried to work with this homeowner and have in fact moved the road so it doesn’t impact the house. It will now be 100 feet to the right of his home, but still on his property.
Pahlevani now has a lawyer that is challenging Virginia's “quick-take” power.
“It is hard to believe, but Virginia law allows the state to take an owner’s property without telling the owner,” said attorney Jeremy Hopkins. “We are simply asking the court to declare those laws are unconstitutional. That the state should be required to tell an owner before the bulldozers roll in.”
Originally, this road was supposed to go over an old, abandoned penny toll house. But Loudoun County purchased the property and it was declared a historic site, which meant the road could no longer go that direction and will now go through private property instead.