Razor-Wire Woman Settles Lawsuit

The woman who built a razor wire fence to stop Rivanna Trail hikers from crossing her property has settled her lawsuit with the Rivanna Trails Foundation and the city, the Daily Progress reports. Shirley Presley was angry with the RTF after they published a map showing that the city-encircling trail ran through her property. She put up razor wire to stop trespassers, a violation of city law, which led to her lawsuit to get the RTF and the city to make people stop. The terms of the settlement were not released.

13 Responses to “Razor-Wire Woman Settles Lawsuit”

  • I wonder if the trail will be be restored. This was one of those situations in which both parties were in the wrong. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if people trespassed on my property every day and claimed they had a right to be there. I hope the RTF was able to make some sort of offer for the use of a small sliver of the land or something.

  • One of these situations that should not have happened. RTF dropped the ball in not dealing with Mrs Presley’s concerns once it was learned they hadnt gotten her permission for an easement.
    Since no one seemed to care about her concerns she addressed it in her own way. I might have done the same thing. I have no patience with rude, thoughtless intruders who come onto private property.
    I don’t believe though that the trash and camping problems were caused by legitimate hikers, but a certain element that has no respect for anyone or their property,that does not want to abide by the rules of society and then turns around and blames society for their condition,the fact that they are out on the street.

  • Just a quick “shout out” to say I used to work at COMDIAL with Shirley and let me tell you boy…everybody knew not to mess with her. Razor wire you say? She invented it!

  • They handle this better in Scandinavia.

  • Hmm, the link isn’t working, so let’s try a bare URL:


  • David, thanks for that link. I’d thought of referencing that myself on a previous incarnation of this discussion. To some degree, I heard it’s true in many different European countries.

    As Americans, I think we often assume that our peculiar notion of property rights is universal to Democracy, when they really aren’t. While I think property rights are a necessary evil, I think we often treat them as a national religion of sorts with dire consequences for a whole range of policies. Neither water, air, soil, fire or other living things recognize our arbitrary lines. In a perfect economic system, these things would have a price too, and thus our actions on private property would have an explicit cost that’d be easy to measure. Unfortunately, that’s also pretty much impossible, so we assign property rights under a sort of public trust that asks landowners to keep in mind the public good out of the goodness of their hearts. Sometimes that works, but very often it doesn’t. There’s got to be a better way of striking a balance but I don’t know what that is.

    One idea I’ve had is to do the same thing that Hunt Clubs do. I think we should have a program by which hikers, naturalist and others could team up to lease properties in the county and city as a way of providing landowners a secondary income. Then the natural resource would become a measurable economic value, and we could get rid of some of these no trespassing signs and razor wire.

  • The Freedom to Roam link is interesting but even in those countries, the freedom to hike across other people’s land is balanced by the obvious requirement of taking care of it. That wasn’t the case here. First, both legally and morally (and obviously) the owner should have been asked first. Not asking just makes it more likely they will be angry. Secondly, people were leaving their trash.

    I don’t know how big the property is, but if it is small, she may have been unhappy to watch people crossing her backyard. Its one thing to allow hikers to cross a forest in a couple hundred acre farm but something else if its a small property.

  • I also think that the things she complains about, regarding trash and random people camping back there weren’t done by RTF members or the city. Likewise, neither RTF nor the city made a trail there (it was already there). Her sole gripe was that they published a map showing the official trail crossing her property before asking her. I bet that even if they hadn’t done that, she’d still have had problems with people tresspassing.

    Nonetheless, I think her issues with it have been discussed ad nauseum. I still would maintain that there were better ways to deal with the situation than razor wire, while others would claim that she’s entitled to use any means she wants to keep people off the property, no matter how dangerous. Heck, she could have a trip wire and a swinging blade that’d decapitate tresspassing children and there’d be people out defending her as a hero. Comdialer’s comment that she “invented Razorwire” fits stories I’ve heard from her neighbors. Apparently, she’s equally miffed if a cat neighbor’s cat or a kids soccer ball ends up touching her property. The settlement may have quieted her for now, but I suspect that no real resolution will come until the land is someday sold, or passed on to a new owner.

    I’m still pretty interested though in what the details of the settlement were. If someone finds out, then it’d be cool if they could post it.

  • Lonnie
    As a friend and neighbor of Shirley Presley I would like to give you some insight regarding some of the comments I have read on this board
    1. Shirley Presley never worked for Comdial
    2. As long as I have known her (which is more than 30 years) she has always been a wonderful neighbor who takes great pride in her home and yard. She has always treated her neighbors with respect and kindness. Many people who have moved from the street over the years still keep in touch sending christmas cards, photos of their kids etc..
    3. She does get upset as do I when neighbors let their dogs run loose on the street to crap in other peoples yards or tear up their flowers/shrubs. These same people leave their animals outside in terrible weather conditions that border on neglect. It got so bad at one point that other people on the street were feeding and cleaning the icicles off the poor animal in the winter. Are these the neighbors you are referring to? I guess a quick fix to that would be to just call animal control the next time the dog is spotted running loose and let the city deal with it.
    4. The soccer balls are not the problem, its the children who rip through the yard after them trampling flowers and scrubs without any effort to avoid them or even so much as a “sorry” that irritate Mrs Presley.

    People are quick to find others faults when they do not agree with them about something. Maybe your friends should take a look at their own behaviors and actions as neighbors to understand the actions of others.
    In my opinion, Lonnie you would do well to check your sources before you start spouting off at the mouth, what are you, a republican??

  • I don’t really know who you’re disagreeing with here, “just the facts.” It’s certainly not Lonnie. The only fact that one person stated and that you disagree with is that she worked at Comdial. But it strikes me as unlikely that somebody could be both mistaken about where they’ve worked and with whom they’ve worked.

  • Comdialer – The Shirley Presley being discussed on this blog NEVER
    worked for Comdial. She retired after working 35 years for the State of Virginia.

  • My apologies to both Shirleys. I stand corrected.

  • I have an observation: there is a tremendous difference between irritation at unruly children and protecting the beauty of one’s lawn, and setting razor wire traps.

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