Lincoln County, WV community stuck in the middle of property feu - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Lincoln County, WV community stuck in the middle of property feud

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A dispute between the state of West Virginia and a private property owner has a community trapped in the middle.

People who live along Coal River Road near Alum Creek, WV said they have been spending money and time they don't have to spare. They have been driving miles out of their way to get around a massive slip for several months.

"We have spent a lot of extra money driving to our jobs," said resident Anna Ruby. "My husband has to go all the way around to go to Hamlin, WV." The West Virginia Division of Highways is working to build an access road around the slip to cut down on the inconvenience for drivers.

Earlier this month 13 News reported the adjacent property owner had granted the state "right of entry" to work on the access road. The state was in the process of trying to buy that property.

The land belonged to Greg Butcher. He is a former member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. He now lives a few miles from the slip in Lincoln County.

Many of the neighbors in the community said Butcher is the reason they have waited so long to get an access road.

"I don't think very much of the person that owns this property," Ruby said.

Neighbors said if Butcher would have willingly sold the property they could have had access around the slide sooner.

"A judge has signed a legal document saying the property is condemned and that it legally belongs to the state. He has been paid for the property," said Carrie Bly, a spokesperson for the WVDOH.

The access road is open now to local traffic and emergency personnel. 13 News contacted Greg Butcher to get his side of the story.

"I have not been the one holding up progress. The people in the community have called me a bad neighbor when they have never even taken the time to talk to me," Butcher said Monday. "I tried to be a good neighbor. I didn't have to give the state access to work on the temporary road. I wish the people there well."

Butcher said when the slip happened initially he offered to use equipment on his property to help the state build an access road. He said he has considered the situation an emergency from the beginning.

There continues to be disagreement between the state and Greg Butcher when it comes to the current ownership of the property. While Bly said the property legally belongs to the state, Butcher said "ownership of the property is in the negotiation process. Their offer was not enough."

Carrie Bly at the Department of Transportation said the access road will officially open to the public this week.