April 2, 2014
With plans for the Route 29 Western Bypass tabled, Albemarle County residents want to take back control of the properties owned by the state that were slated to be along road's path.
In the 1990's the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) bought up dozens of homes in the route of the proposed bypass. Robert Humphris lives in the Colthurst subdivision, where four homes are owned by VDOT. He says while many of them had been rented, others have fallen into disrepair, like this one on Falcon Drive
“That home has been abandoned for over a year,” said Humphris. “It did have renters in it. There were different groups of people living together. They didn't take care of it. And I guess VDOT didn't do a very good job either because it's quite overgrown. It's gonna take a lot of work to get it back in shape.”
But it's not just in Colthurst.: Nine homes in the Squirrel Ridge area, and others in Montvue are all in various states of neglect; dilapidated decks, littered with trash, and some even have water leaking from them.
“It has not had any maintenance that I know of, since VDOT bought it for over 20 years,” says Montvue resident Laney Kaminer.
Neighbors say the unkempt properties are affecting their ability to sell their own homes and they want the Albemarle Co. Board of Supervisors to do something about it.
"We were asking the board to send a resolution to the state to please sell these houses that are owned by the state because they are a blight, and pulling down our property values," Kaminer said.
Milton Moore’s home in Colthurst has been on the market for over a year, but he says the bypass has made it a tough sell.
"A couple that lived out in Crozet was trying to bargain with me, saying if they bypass is going through we can only pay you $376,000 for you home,” Moore said. “I mean that is almost half the price that the house is.”
Moore and other say the unknown has been keeping buyers away, and until funding for the bypass has been spent on something else, or VDOT sells the land, the threat of the road will remain.
VDOT released the following statement:
"VDOT is maintaining the houses it owns in a safe and secure manner pending a decision on whether the properties will be used for any transportation purpose. VDOT has contracts in place for maintenance of the properties and the yards until such decision is made."