VB dentist frustrated with delay in reimbursement after VDOT uses eminent domain

Local News

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach dentist says VDOT has not treated him right.  

The state transportation agency took his business through eminent domain to widen Witchduck Road, but he claims VDOT has failed to give him relocation benefits he thinks he deserves. He relocated to a new office at 520 South Independence.

“Here we are 2 1/2 years after the move and we have interest payments every month, and getting no answers from the state when we can expect to get reimbursed,” said a frustrated Dr. Michael Fernandez.

Fernandez argued in Virginia Beach Circuit Court he was promised assistance in 2015 when VDOT wrote him, “Please be assured that you are eligible for relocation benefits as specified by law.”

He only got $35,000 for a move that entitled him to, he thinks, $450,000.

“They threw us out of court, and so we are appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court,” says Attorney Brian Kunze, who says he lost in Circuit Court because the court got it wrong on fundamental unfairness and VDOT stall tactics didn’t help.

“We would submit that information, then they requested more information, then we would get request for more information, and this went on for about a year.”  

Kunze even goes further, “VDOT operates under a rule to benefit those who are forced to relocate by VDOT, but who are not allowed to bring suit against VDOT when they feel they have been wronged by VDOT.”

VDOT sent us this statement:

“The Department and its agents carefully follow the law and respect the rights of those affected by our projects. This matter, in which a Virginia Beach circuit court ruled in favor of VDOT, is no exception.”  

Jordan-Ashley Walker
VDOT Senior Communications Specialist

Dr. Fernandez says “the most disappointing frustrating thing is it has taken so long to get any reimbursement for this state mandated move … I’ve had heartache, sleepless nights, money juggling with banks and loans trying to keep everything rolling. It’s ridiculous.”

Kunze reminded the State Supreme Court in the filing the law is the condemning agency, which is VDOT, “shall make fair and reasonable relocation payments to the displaced person.”

Kunze said of Fernandez, “they were forced to relocate their business, and they are being unfairly required to pay for it themselves when the law clearly states they are entitled to benefits and assistance.”

Dr. Fernandez is not a quitter. He’s taking the fight to the Supreme Court of Virginia. “I want to make it right for not only me, but other small businesses that are subject to these ridiculous policies.  They make you move and they don’t pay you to do it. It is all done on reimbursement.”

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