Concertina coda? Presley, city eye trail settlement

Shirley Presley's long battle to keep Rivanna Trail hikers off her Bland Circle property may be drawing to an end. She appeared in court August 31 on misdemeanor charges of violating city code by stringing razor wire across the sliver of her property the trail crosses.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ron Huber asked Charlottesville General District Court Judge Bob Downer for more time to work out a plan with Presley. Downer gave the parties until September 30.

"It appears we're working out a settlement," says Presley's attorney, Fred Payne, who refused further comment.

It was a virtual love fest in front of the bench as Payne and Huber commended each other's efforts. Feelings haven't always been so warm.

Presley supporters have characterized her blockade as a last stand for property rights. Some trail hikers have complained that Presley ruined a resource in protecting a small sliver of property, which trail organizers failed to obtain her permission to cross. And the city views the razor wire as a menace to public safety.

In June, Payne subpoenaed 13 witnesses, including City Manager Gary O'Connell, Police Chief Tim Longo, and Hook reporter Courteney Stuart. The city was unable to quash the subpoenas of nine city officials.

News that a deal was in the works was a surprise to building code official Jerry Tomlin, who brought charges against Presley. He says that as of August 27, the razor wire was still up.

Shirley Presley may be nearing a deal to get the concertina wire off her land and the city off her back.