The bulldozer at the Holly Acres trailer park is not demolishing mobile homes or clearing out low-income Latino tenants. It's fixing a damaged sewer pipe, and it's happening hours after Prince William County settled an $8 million lawsuit filed by Holly Acres' owner Hank Ridge.
"I don't see that there's any victory in this for us or the county," he says. "We're just happy that the county has allowed this to occur, and we appreciate their cooperation."
About a dozen families in the development were displaced from their trailers due to flooding that occurred from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. Prince William County officials will allow FEMA to decide how many trailers will be rebuilt on the flood-prone Holly Acres site.
County officials had stopped the residents from returning and tried to evict those who did. They cited safety violations, and said that allowing the trailers back would jeopardize the county's federal flood insurance coverage.
Holly Acres owner and activists accused the county of a land grab and a thinly veiled attempt to clear out poor residents from prime real estate. Activist Greg Reynolds says Prince William County settled just before County Executive Republican Cory Stuart, a staunch opponent of undocumented immigrants, was scheduled to testify.
"I don't think that would help him with his run for lieutenant governor," says Reynolds. "I think it would be politically embarrassing."
Holly Acres attorney Mark Moorstein says the settlement serves another purpose. "It does recognize that the county does have an obligation to provide some low-income housing for people who are working in the county and providing services."
Virginia's attorney general Ken Cuccinelli will face former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe in November to become Virginia's 72nd governor.