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David Brickley holds the rights to a 16-mile railroad bed. He plans to turn it into an invitation-only hiking and biking trail.
A letter to the state from King George County supervisors addressing a rails-to-trails project won't be dropped in the mail.
Last week, supervisors directed the county administrator to draft a letter to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation stating that the county's comprehensive plan doesn't include the trail project.
The trail is to be included in new version of a statewide outdoors plan to be released next spring. The document serves as a guide for planning and land-use in the state.
The draft letter said supervisors believe a controversy over the trail needs to be resolved between property owners.
But at a work session on Tuesday evening, supervisors agreed that any correspondence to the DCR could be seen as taking sides in a contentious ongoing debate.
"A truly neutral letter can be used by both sides," board Chairman Stephen Wolfe said.
Some residents who own land along the 15.7-mile trail fear the trail will bring in crime, litter and noise to the area. A group called Citizens for Trail Truth & Property Rights presented supervisors last week with a petition listing 600 signatures urging them to write DCR officials and request the project be taken off the outdoors plan.
Ultimately, the group wants the federal government to return property to original land owners. The land was taken by eminent domain to build a rail line to the Dahlgren naval base during World War II.
The easement is owned by former Planning Commissioner Joe Williams, but is being leased to former state legislator David Brickley of Woodbridge. Brickley and his supporters cleared the trail earlier this year for hiking and biking on an invitation-only basis.
He hopes to eventually turn it over to the state and open it to the entire public.
Supporters of Brickley's plan have formed a group called Friends of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail. The group hosted a dedication of the trail in June.
Supervisors said they were remaining neutral when they agreed last week to draft a letter to the DCR restating the county's actions on the issue.
"It really is a personal property-rights issue," Supervisor Joseph Grzeika said at the time. Grzeika represents the Madison District where a part of the trail lies.
"We have landowners involved on a personal level " he said. "I know I've said before, it's not in our comprehensive plan--we have no plans for the property."
DCR spokesman Gary Waugh said last week that the trail property has been identified as a potential resource since 1989 and was on the Virginia Outdoors Plan in both 1996 and 2002.
Waugh said the property will again be identified as a potential multiuse trail on the plan, but the document will acknowledge that there are "a number of local issues that need to be addressed before it would become a trail."
The Rev. Ben Jones of Little Ark Baptist Church also has expressed concerns with the trail, which cuts through a cemetery on church property. While Jones does not oppose the entire plan, he does want to make sure trail use would not violate the sanctity of the cemetery.
Jones and Brickley have said last week they are communicating about ways to make the trail bypass the cemetery, but no agreement has been reached.
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