Feds Vow To Take Family’s Private Land Near Area 51 By Force

Long-time landowners of a piece of property near Area 51 are fearing an invasion, but not from little green men from outer space.  They're afraid their land, which is now surrounded by a bombing range, will be taken from them by the federal government.

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According to an Associated Press report, the U.S. Air Force has offered the property owners, led by Joseph Sheahan and Barbara Sheahan Manning, its "last best offer" of $5.2 million.  If they don't accept it, the land will be taken away anyway.

The almost-400 acres of land is so completely surrounded by the military that it can only be accessed by passing armed security guards, and the federal government has said that's a danger.  One of their press releases states: "The land has become an increasingly greater safety and security risk as demand for test and training opportunities have increased."

The Sheahan family is willing to sell the land for the right price but don't feel that the feds are giving them a fair deal.  "Why don't they ask themselves what it cost my family over the years in blood, sweat, tears and money?" Sheahan commented. 

The family can trace their ownership back to their mining claims in the 1870s.  They lost their mining operation when the Air Force moved into the area in the 1940s, and their mining mill mysteriously exploded in 1954.  The Sheahan family didn't have enough money to pursue reparations from the government for the loss of their mining enterprise.

Manning feels that over the course of decades the federal government has "completely disregarded our constitutional rights" in that region. 

The Sheahan family say their land was appraised at $13.6 million in 1986, but the Air Force says the government assessments around that time put it around $1 million.  They feel their offer of $5.4 million today is overly generous.

What do you think about the deal?  Should the military's needs sometimes override the property rights of civilians?  Or is the government encroaching upon its citizens?

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