PULASKI CO., Va.—Any time farmers and landowners hear the words "property rights,"you probably have their attention.
The so-called "New River Valley Livability Initiative" is a federally funded plan to help local communities find common ground when it comes to future land use and green space.
Proponents say planning for the future is what the "New River Valley Livability Initiative" is all about, a controversial three year $1 million federal grant that would create economic, housing, and energy initiatives among local cities and towns.
But a growing chorus of landowners says the NRV livability initiative is less about future planning, and more about a quiet government land grab that starts by eroding property rights, acre by acre. And no matter how many public meetings are held, not enough farmers voices will be heard.
"Not everybody will have or take the opportunity to participate in this, but we will all have to live with the consequences at the end of it," landowner Bruce Stanger said.
Creating future transportation links between towns and keeping seniors living in their own homes are also parts of the livability plan.
"We've been doing a lot of outreach as part of this process we have over 1700 citizens that have been involved, over 2300 comments collected today in surveys," Byrd said
This is the Guthrie Farm in Pulaski County. It has been around for 200 years and covers about a thousand acres. There are lots of landowners who will tell you they trust the government as far as they can throw it. but we found a retired farmer who says sometimes it makes sense to make deals with local leaders.
'I think the expressions of the concerns that I've heard are absurd because no one is proposing to take over your land or to direct it at all," landowner Richard Guthrie said.
Both sides agree that more meetings are needed so that as many voices as possible can be heard.