A proposed extension of the Florida Turnpike could disrupt the lives of residents in historically Black communities in several counties. Although residents and community leaders have rallied against the construction, local governments have not presented a united front against the project, leaving many fearing that their voices won’t be heard.
No-build resolutions ask to shelve North Turnpike extension
Although such resolutions aren’t legally binding, some governments like Levy County have passed no-build resolutions, and the city of Wildwood and the Sumter County Board of Commissioners have sent a joint letter to the Florida Department of Transportation, asking them to change the proposed routes to lessen the project’s impact on the Black community. All four of the proposed routes run through the municipality of Royal, with many residents expressing concern that they won’t get fair value for their properties under eminent domain law.
FDOT can acquire the properties in the project’s path by paying owners a fair market value. However, many property owners expressed their concern at a late February rally that they would not get proper compensation if the project went ahead. The project is still in its early stages as FDOT is still in the midst of its Project Development and Environment Study.
Fighting eminent domain acquisition
The time to fight possible real estate acquisition under eminent domain is well before any construction project is approved. While individual property owners may feel helpless, pooling together resources may help them fight a proposed project through various means.
Even when government projects advance to the construction stage despite one’s best efforts, property owners may still be able to recover a fair amount for their property. Pursuing various valuation strategies and not accepting an initial low offer could help property owners get the best possible deal.