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A flower has more rights than a landowner

Fri, Feb 16th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

I am one of two property owners who has not agreed to sell my land for the Forestville Trail.

On Tuesday night, the Preston City Council may begin discussing whether to use eminent domain to acquire 2 1/2 acres that I own five miles away from the city for use as a bike trail.

I want to ask you, how is that right? I can't vote for them [Preston City Council]. I can't vote for anyone working for the DNR. I can vote for the president of the United States, and he can send us to Iraq and put us to war. But I don't have the right to vote for anybody who can take my land for a bicycle trail, for recreation.

I don't have anything against a bike trail, because we need recreation, but treat the landowners with respect. Don't run over them.

They've got a whole big trail system they want to build, and bike trails, horse trails and recreation is not going away and landowners are not going away.

The DNR wants to have better landowner relations for hunting and fishing, so, is this the right way to go about it?

It is a privilege to go across this land, it's not a right. They just come out here and run over us.

Isn't it just as important on how the land is acquired for the trail as the trail itself?

I want to get people to think about what is going on here. Because it isn't right. We've been intimidated and misled. I've watched people get laughed at and bullied.

From the beginning this thing has been handled wrong. A lawyer came out and told us what to do and where to go. A surveyor puts a stake in the middle of our land and told me that's where the trail is going to go. He told me they [DNR] will put the trail wherever they want to.

They can go around our land to build their trail. There are other options. Don't tell me about cost, it cost more than a million dollars to build those first two bridges to get out of town.

I was talking to a landowner out west where they were building a trail and he said, 'you know they found a rare flower along the trail, and they stopped the trail right there. And they built a bypass around that flower.' A flower has more rights than a landowner.

So, take a different route to Forestville. They should have talked with us before they started the thing. It's not right that they can come out and do this for a bicycle trail. If it was a hospital or a road, something that everyone needs, I could understand.

The farmers out here have paid taxes, for years we have supported this community. We are going to be here for years, and the bicycler is here today and gone tomorrow. Sure, we need some tourism, but at what cost? Are you going to run over the people that have supported these communities for all these years? You're going to threaten and intimidate them with eminent domain?

I just want people to stop and think. Is this democracy? If they don't want to sell, they don't want to sell. It is a landowner's right. Go around it some way or another. Work with people, don't start threatening them with eminent domain.

Look, I care what happens to Preston. We live here, but this thing isn't right. Our country was built on rights and freedoms, what is happening to ours?

John Snyder lives in rural


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