Eminent Domain For Conservation
One of the most powerful condemning authorities in Florida is the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). FDOT, along with its regional transportation authorities, like the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority (OOCEA), relies heavily on eminent domain to obtain property for roadway projects. In the past, the environmental impact of some of these road projects was catastrophic. Now, to offset the environmental damage caused by roadway projects, many of them are accompanied by environmental offsets or conservation areas.
If your land is being targeted for condemnation to offset the environmental damage caused by a roadway project, consider carefully whether or not to accept an offer from FDOT or another governmental entity. Your property may not be essential to the project, and, in any case, you deserve full compensation for your property. Schedule a free consultation with the Florida Property Rights Law Firm, P.A. to learn more about your property rights.
Environmental Damage from Roads
Roads are one of the most essential parts of the Florida infrastructure, and they have widespread public support. This can make fighting eminent domain use for roadways very difficult. Unfortunately, roads and the cars that drive on them can be very bad for local habitats and the endangered species that depend on them. Roads can cut a habitat in half, reducing the sustainability of populations. Drainage from roadways can be toxic to plants and animals, and poorly designed roadways can dramatically change the drainage of an area, leading to flash-flooding or drying up wetlands. Car exhaust can kill trees and vegetation, and cars themselves are a danger to wildlife.
Unfortunately, new roadways must either be built through densely populated areas or through areas previously undeveloped that have come to harbor displaced or endangered species. To build roadways through environmentally sensitive areas requires that some property be set aside to protect these species and their habitats, and the only way to guarantee that currently undeveloped land will remain so is to purchase the land and make it a conservation area, and these purchases often depend on the use of eminent domain.
The Wekiva Parkway Project
One example of this approach to road construction is the Wekiva Parkway project, a 27-mile roadway, along with feeder roads, through Lake, Orange, and Seminole counties. The project is a joint work of OOCEA and FDOT, and it is being widely praised by the environmental community for its attention to preserving the Wekiva River Basin, “one of the state’s natural treasures.” To do this, the project includes the preservation of over 9,000 acres of sensitive land. Some of this land was already parks and natural area, but other portions were private property and were purchased specifically for the purpose of being made into a conservation area.
Resisting Eminent Domain Is not Resisting Conservation
If your land has been targeted to become a potential conservation area, you have the right to get full compensation for your property. Refusing to take the initial offer of a condemning authority is smart, because often these initial offers are well below the property’s actual value. Your property may not even be essential to the project at hand. Resisting eminent domain forces the project to be reviewed by an independent authority, and if your land is essential, you may be forced to surrender it, but not without the full and just compensation guaranteed to you in the Florida and US Constitutions.
If you want to protect your property or at least receive adequate compensation for its loss to an environmental offset, the Florida Property Rights Law Firm, P.A. can help. Please contact us today for a free consultation.