Property owner accuses VDOT of withholding appraisals

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A Portsmouth land owner wants to know how two properties next door to each other could be appraised so differently.

“I’m a big advocate for property rights,” said property owner Tony Goodwin.

The spot where Goodwin once owned property on Queen Street is now covered by concrete. VDOT took his land to make way for the new Martin Luther King Extension.

“The overall scheme of the project was flawed to begin with,” he added.

Goodwin owned 0.3 acres. A portion of the land was zoned commercial, the rest residential. His neighbor’s much smaller land was also being taken.

VDOT did an appraisal on both properties.

His neighbor settled with the traffic organization, but Goodwin thought his land was more valuable than what VDOT offered. A jury sided with him, but wanted to know the appraisal on his neighbor’s land. It was a document VDOT refused to give up.

“What was the difference between the appraisal of our neighboring property – which was less than four feet away – and our appraisal?” Goodwin asks.

Goodwin took VDOT to court and the judge agreed that his neighbor’s appraisal is public record and needed to be handed over. To his surprise, his land was only valued at half of what VDOT valued the land next door.

“How can the dirt next door be worth $6.00 a square foot and Goodwin’s dirt be worth $3.00?” asks attorney Jeremy Hopkins. “We still haven’t gotten an answer.”

VDOT told us the Attorney General’s Office told them not to release the neighbor’s appraisal, citing code that wouldn’t allow information to be released for 60 days after his neighbor settled. Goodwin, though, asked for it two years later.

“I can somewhat understand it to a certain degree, but also want to make sure it never happens again to someone else,” Goodwin added.

VDOT tells 10 On Your Side the people who handle the appraisals were out of the office on Friday.

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