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Government plans to seize farm land from family - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Government plans to seize farm land from family

Morses Line, Vermont - April 25, 2010

The federal government is taking a Franklin County farm family to court. The Department of Homeland Security is threatening to take part of their land through eminent domain to increase border security.

The Rainville's say the move will put them out of business.

The Department of Homeland Security wants to expand its outdated and crumbling border station at Morses Line. Originally the government was in need of 10 acres. But after further review, which revealed only 40 cars use the port each day on average,  scaled the project back to 5 acres.

"They are pitching this as a stimulus project, putting my family out of business is not economic development," said Rainville.

The Rainvilles say the plot of land is crucial to their farm. They use it to produce hay for their dairy cows, and the layout of their 224 acre farm prevents them from moving the hay field elsewhere. The government has offered the farm family $30,000 for the land.

"We have never sold one acre for development. My father wanted to build a new house for my mother in 1968 when they got married. My grandfather said we grow hay here," said Rainville.

Since the Rainvilles refuse to sell the land, the government is now moving forward with plans to take it thru eminent domain. According to a letter from the Department of Homeland Security, failing to fortify one port of entry weakens the entire national security system.

"To be put out of business because somebody wants a new building for 2 1/2 cars an hour, you can't justify that," responded Rainville.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy understands the importance of improving border security across the nation. Even though the project has been scaled way back, Leahy still questions why the government wants to spend millions of dollars in stimulus money to expand this border station.

"There's a lot of things that are funded by stimulus money that make a great deal of sense, I don't see where this adds jobs, I don't see where this does anything to help us, I don't think this does anything to improve the security of the country," said Leahy.

With the government ready to condemn the land, the Rainvilles are now preparing for a legal battle.

"If DHS wants to take us into the courtroom, they gotta show a public good, and a public need for this project, and their own documents don't support them," said Rainville.

Matt Henson - WCAX-TV

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