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Stafford brothers settle suit

Twin Stafford County brothers, who battled the Virginia Department of Transportation for years over damage to their land as part of a bridge project, have finally settled their legal dispute with the state.

Andrew and Henry Miller were originally paid $40,500 for about an acre of their property along Courthouse Road for a project that replaced a single-lane bridge and moved the road closer to the home, where Andrew Miller lives. Henry Miller lives in Fairfax.

After the project’s completion, the brothers, who are in their 70s, found serious damage on their property north of Brooke and sued VDOT.

Late last month, the Millers and the highway department agreed to a settlement paying the brothers $185,000, according to Stafford County Circuit Court documents.

The settlement agreement includes a clause prohibiting the Millers and their lawyers from talking about “any aspect of this case with the media.”

The Millers and their lawyer, Chuck Lollar of Waldo & Lyle, a Norfolk-based law firm that specializes in eminent domain and property rights, said they are glad the case is closed.

“We are pleased to say that after many years of legal battles with the Virginia Department of Transportation the Miller family has settled their case,” he said in a statement. “Though both sides disagreed about many of the issues, they were able to put aside their disagreements and resolve the case.”

VDOT did not respond to requests for comment.

The ordeal started for the Millers in late 2007 when VDOT notified them that part of their property was needed for improvements to Courthouse Road, part of a $7.1 million project that replaced a 94-year-old single-lane bridge with a wider, taller span over the CSX railroad tracks east of Stafford Courthouse.

After the project was completed, the brothers noticed erosion and other problems.

The Millers and Lollar said in a September story in The Free Lance–Star that a neighbor allowed the contractor to dump soil from the project onto his property. The top of the large mound was leveled off, and vegetation has since grown on it.

But the hill still towers over the Millers’ property, and they said that it caused serious erosion problems on their land, which is divided into two parcels totaling about 16 acres. The erosion problems negatively impacted wetlands and basically destroyed a path to the back parcel, making it difficult to drive there, according to the Millers and Lollar.

Lollar hired Stokes Environmental Associates to inspect the property.

Thomas Stokes said in September that his research showed the soil was dumped without permits and that mud had filled the wetlands.

The construction project caused other issues, the brothers said in September.

Rainwater often filled the shallow well that serves the house, which contaminated the water, they said.

Andrew Miller said he drank bottled water because of contamination.

“I buy my water,” he said in September. “Even for the dog. I don’t let him drink it.”

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

 

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