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Rincon 'a rogue city'
Woods stands his ground in dispute with city
Woods paynter good
Property owner Herman Woods discusses the piece of land he owns where the city of Rincon built part of a wellhouse. Woods was arrested Friday and charged with knocking down that portion of the building that was on his property. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

In an impromptu news conference on the edge of his Rincon Commercial Park, Herman Woods expressed again his frustration at the city of Rincon’s lack of proper procedure in the taking of a piece of his land improperly for the building of a well house for the city.

Woods was arrested by Rincon Police on Friday afternoon and was booked and released on $6,000 bond. He was charged with terroristic threats and acts, criminal damage to property in the first degree, and interference with government property. The city alleges that Woods used a bulldozer to knock down a city building, a charge that he does not admit to. He said it didn’t really make him any angrier as he “was already there.”

He said if they could take someone’s land as they did his, then he guessed they could do almost anything.

At the hearing in Effingham County Superior Court last Thursday, the city speculated that the well house was only encroaching on Woods’ property about 30 percent, but Woods said Monday he thinks it’s closer to 90 percent over onto his property. He said he can’t show others just how much because the court banned him from visiting his own property.

“They commandeered it, just like a fascist government,” he said.

Woods also said it was likely he would need additional legal assistance.

“It’s important matters and serious charges they’ve leveled and serious trespassing that they’re doing,” he said. “We might as well all pack up and go to Cuba if they can do things like this.”

Woods also said he had been very pleased and surprised at the number of people who have expressed support for him. He said even people out of his past had come forward and that they’re concerned about everything.

He said the city was going to answer through the due course of law.

“They’ve done all they can do, other than the threat of contempt of court that I’m under,” Woods said. “I’d like to express that I don’t ever have any contempt for law, I’ve never broken the law in my life — I haven’t had a traffic accident at fault.

“The experience is unbelievable, but I have property rights.” 

Woods quoted from the state Constitution a person’s property can only be taken under eminent domain after payment to the property owner, not before.

“I’ll go on record as saying this is a rogue town,” he said. “If this could happen to me, it could happen to anybody. That’s what’s upsetting to the citizens here.

Woods also said he hoped that the state Supreme Court would be able to get to this case before the work on the building is finished by the city.

“It doesn’t mean I’m unsympathetic (to the city),” he said. “If they had just said ‘hello.’ They never said ‘hello,’ let alone, ‘how much did you want for the property.’”

He also said the city knew it was building on property that was not theirs. He cited an e-mail he sent to the acting city manager in May, informing them that they were building on his property.

“We don’t go out of our way to initiate trouble,” Woods  said, “but we won’t be pushed around by people just because they’ve been doing it in the past. They need to change and I hope that they will. I think the electorate will change it, if nothing else.”