High water signs spark concern among residents

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on May 09, 2018 - 01:08 PM

Photo: Two “Road May Flood” signs recently placed along Jenkins Neck Road in Guinea have caused quite a stir among many homeowners there. Residents are claiming the signs are diminishing the value of their properties and are considering suing the Gloucester County for damages. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Two “Road May Flood” signs recently placed along Jenkins Neck Road in Guinea have caused quite a stir among many homeowners there. Residents are claiming the signs are diminishing the value of their properties and are considering suing the Gloucester County for damages. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Signs for high water that were recently placed along Jenkins Neck Road in the Guinea section of Gloucester have caused some concern among property owners who claim the signs have decreased the value of their homes.

Mark Perdue, a homeowner on Jenkins Neck Road who has helped organize a group of homeowners against the signs, said Gloucester County met with a representative from the Virginia Department of Transportation to coordinate the placement of 15 signs on local roadways that are prone to flooding. So far, Perdue said, three have been placed, with two on Jenkins Neck.

According to Perdue, the signs indicate the roads are subject to flooding, and have an elevation of flooding of five feet.

Perdue conceded that Jenkins Neck Road is subject to flooding. However, a number of other roads in the county—and certainly in the Peninsula—are subject to flooding, which do not have, nor will have, this sign,” he said.

“The signs certainly decrease the property values on the roads in which they are placed,” he added. “As such, the signs violate the Fifth Amendment (to the Constitution), ‘taking without compensation’ … We have a right to compensation if (they’re) going to keep the signs there.”

Perdue said some of the county’s most expensive homes are located in the area where these signs have been placed. “And by placing these signs in the manner they are placed, the county has subjected the taxpayers to a lawsuit—the lawsuit being the value of the homes decreased by the signs,” Perdue said. “The lawsuit would certainly exceed $2 million just regarding the Bena and Jenkins Neck Road homes, should a lawsuit be filed.”

Perdue said he and a group of about a dozen other homeowners planned to meet with a lawyer on Friday.

On Monday, Perdue said he was working on getting signatures from all the homeowners impacted by the signs on a claim letter giving their notice of their intent to sue Gloucester County and VDOT. The total claim of the letter totals over $3 million.

“The county argues that the signs are a safety benefit,” Perdue added. “However, the signs’ lowest marking for flood level is at one foot.”

He made the point that the ground clearance for cars is less than six inches; while the ground clearance for trucks is about nine inches. “Therefore, before the sign would even help any driver in a non-modified car or truck, the car or truck would already be partially submerged,” Perdue said. “Not even a tank is going to be traveling in this area with that amount of flooding.”

“There’s nothing that’s going to drive through five feet of water that that sign is going to do any good … That sign is only good for one thing and that is boats,” he said.

“The county has in effect condemned certain areas of the county, and must therefore compensate the homeowners,” he added. “This could result in large layoffs of county employees or higher taxes for all other residents.”

Perdue said the county has already recognized the “blow-back” due to these signs and has already created a moratorium on placing any of the additional signs. “The county has already admitted liability,” he added. “The lawsuit is coming.”

Perdue approached Gloucester supervisors during their May meeting to encourage the governing board to remove the signs. He told the board that his home is currently for sale and he had a prospective buyer coming to look at in on Friday.

“That sign is basically condemning everybody that is on my block,” Perdue said. “It’s a huge issue when that sign is placed.”

York district supervisor Phillip Bazzani asked at the end of the board of supervisors’ May 1 meeting whether the additional signs were going to be placed. “I know at the time we wanted to put these up, but in retrospect, when you think about it, if you’re going to (buy a) home … and you come up the approaching road and see these big flood signs there, you’re going to turn around and go back.”

He suggested not putting any signs up and the ones that have been put up be taken down.