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By Tom DeWeese
June 13, 2002

Mayor Cleo Mathews of Hinton, West Virginia speaks of the New River Parkway as being a local issue in which outsiders have no business meddling, but the Parkway will be built with a good share of federal funds. For that reason alone, we all have an interest in why local homeowners face having their homes taken from them and razed by the government.

The primary forces behind the Parkway are the federal Department of Transportation and the National Park Service. What's happening in Hinton isn't about eminent domain. It's about destroying homes so that drivers can look at trees. Consider now how the issue of property rights and the plight of families about to lose their homes are critical to every homeowner in America.

Branded an outside agitator by the Mayor, I suggest that the real "outside agitators" are coming in from Washington, DC to take the property of Hinton residents.  The claim is that Hinton needs the highway for economic reasons, but the real reason Hinton and other West Virginia communities began to experience economic difficulty was because radical environmentalists were instrumental in closing many of the State's coal mines.

Joining hands with them are men like West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall. According to the League of Conservation Voters, Congressman Rahall has voted with radical environmentalists 79% of the time, more than any other Congressman from West Virginia. Hinton is simply one of their victims, but there are hundreds of communities across the nation dying because of policies dictated from Washington, D.C.

Now the same culprits who helped to kill Hinton's industry are claiming the New River Parkway is a magic answer to restoring prosperity, but a look at the map of where the Parkway will go reveals it is on the opposite side of the river from Hinton. In preparation for the Parkway, the National Park Service is busy buying up property located along the route. NPS Acting Superintendent Henry Law told some residents along the river road that the agency would "not only get all of the private property along the road, they would take every business too."

 At a May 7th meeting, again and again I listened to officials assure those attending that "they" had no intention of taking any land outside of the actual space needed to build the roadway. This is a deceitful tactic. Technically these officials were telling the truth, except they left out the "rest of the story." Once the roadway is built it will be turned over to the National Park Service. NPS will then complete the project by implementing its "view sheds" and imposing conservation easements. Once done, there will be no private homes and no private businesses along the New River Parkway.

 The property owners don't want to lose their homes and for that they are being called "extremists." I went to Hinton because no locally elected official would stand up for the property owners. The American Policy Center works with a coalition of property rights activists from across the nation and we are fighting back against government polices that have turned their back on homeowners, ranchers, farmers and all others who want to possess a part of the American dream. 

Tom DeWeese - All Rights Reserved

Tom DeWeese is the president of the American Policy Center, an activist, grassroots think tank and publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report, a monthly newsletter. The Center is headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia. The Center maintains an Internet site at