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DRBA: 'We don't own land ... trails'

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dan River Basin Association develops plans for recreational trails, but it does not own the land where trails are located.

“We are a nonprofit organization. We don’t own land. We don’t own trails,” said Brian Williams, program manager for DRBA.

Also, DRBA does not take private property, never has and never will, he said.

However, DRBA — a nonprofit organization with operations in Martinsville-Henry County and other areas — is being denounced by some Patrick residents over concerns that the association is trying to take private property, according to Williams; Danny Foley, chairman of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors; and Dan River District Supervisor Roger Hayden.

“There seems to be a perception” among some Patrick residents “that there’s getting to be too much oversight ... groups (are) making plans about trails, and a lot of the property owners are saying, ‘I don’t want this’ on their property,” Foley said Wednesday.

Williams said the situation began after DRBA funneled resources from other parts of its budget to fulfill a request from the Patrick County Rivers & Trails group to create a recreational use plan for Patrick County.

DRBA prepared a similar proposal for Henry County that was unanimously supported by the Henry County Board of Supervisors, he said.

“We get these type of requests all the time” from other groups in other localities but it is unable to fulfill all of them, Williams said. Because Patrick has a strong Rivers & Trails group, and due to its proximity to Henry County, Williams said the association thought it made sense to prepare a plan for Patrick.

The recreational plan basically is a suggested list of projects that the county can do, if it chooses and there are funds and easements available, Williams said. He noted there is nothing in the plan that would bind or require the county to do any projects.

Williams added that he does not understand the misconception about the association, and he hopes residents will understand what DRBA is and what it is not.

“I have lived in a variety of high-growth regions and I have seen what development and money can do to an area,” Williams said. “... The small farms, land owners and locals ... are the ones that get driven off. When all the land is bought for development,” local residents are unable to use the land “any longer. It goes to the people with the most money.”

He added that “big development can and will happen one day. DRBA is interested in keeping the development controlled and occurring at a pace that is right for the local community, not at the whim of big developers ... . If a landfill or uranium mine is suggested on a waterway, we are the first ones there spending money in alliance with local” residents to protect a region.

Foley said he has suggested that DRBA hold more meetings to educate residents about the recreation plan and the association’s role in it before presenting the plan to the supervisors in July.

He said that if residents understand DRBA’s intentions, they may be more willing to support the plan.


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