ECUA Seeks To Take Cantonment Property By Eminent Domain For Sewage Lift Station

January 13, 2018

The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) is seeking to exercise its power of eminent domain to acquire property on Well Line Road for a sewage lift station.

ECUA has been unable to reach an agreement with the owner of unimproved land at 400 Well Line Road.  The property is needed to replace and upgrade ECUA’s “Lift Station 143″. In order to take the property under eminent domain, ECUA must first obtain the approval of the Escambia County Commission.

The ECUA lift station on Well Line Road near Watson Avenue is outdated and deteriorated, in need of replacement and upgrades, according to ECUA. Plans call for it to potentially become a regional lift station.

ECUA said the property is not large enough to accommodate a regional lift station and emergency storage tanks which may also be placed next to it.

A letter from ECUA Board Chair Lois Benson states that ECUA has been unsuccessful in negotiations to acquire the property.

“Although ECUA intends to continue to negotiate with the property owner, it feels compelled to initiate those steps necessary in order to take the needed property by way of eminent domain, should that become necessary, as ECUA’s Lift Station 143 needs to be upsized, upgraded, and replaced in order to protect the public interest,” the letter states.

The Escambia County Commission will consider ECUA’s eminent domain request on January 18.

Under eminent domain, Florida law allows a governmental entity such as ECUA to seize property for the public good and provide full compensation to the owner.


39 Responses to “ECUA Seeks To Take Cantonment Property By Eminent Domain For Sewage Lift Station”

  1. Frank on March 31st, 2018 7:31 pm

    Quote: “A letter from ECUA Board Chair Lois Benson states that ECUA has been unsuccessful in negotiations to acquire the property.”

    That’s because ECUA just doesn’t want to pay top dollar for the property. They want to pay pennies on dollar. So they resort to Eminent Domain.

    The owners should get paid top dollar for their property, and ECUA needs to pay them that. If ECUA doesn’t like it, too bad. Let them go elsewhere or cancel their project.

  2. cb on January 15th, 2018 10:12 am

    How much land are we talking about? What else is the individual going to do with it? If they buy only part, what will anyone want to do with the rest?

  3. David Huie Green on January 14th, 2018 9:29 pm

    ” No, they will only get pennies on the $”

    An assertion based on what proof?
    (Unless you mean 100 pennies on the dollar.)

    David for verification of reason for distrust

  4. M in Bratt on January 14th, 2018 5:37 pm

    All of you genius quoters of the constitution should read it before you make up your own quotes. The constitution clearly allows the government to take property in the 5th amendment as follows; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Now, shut up and let’s build the new lift station. And to those that want to move the lift station somewhere else, lift stations are placed according to the geography of an area, they have to be placed at the bottom of hills so that gravity will take the sewage to them. This is probably the only logical place to put it, or the ECUA probably would move it rather than deal with on greedy land owner.

  5. M in Bratt on January 14th, 2018 2:51 pm

    Eminent domain is one of the very necessary evils of government. Without eminent domain, most of the infrastructure, including; roads, bridges, drainage projects, dams, utility projects, and the list goes on and on would not exist. Even the Beulah bypass project would come to a halt because there will be some land owners that will not negotiate or budge on selling. The government is bound to pay fair market value for any property they take, but is not obligated to break the taxpayers by paying greatly inflated prices for any property.

  6. Nod on January 14th, 2018 1:08 pm

    do everywhere but no new lift station. Let us bring out the civilian militia and put a stop to the unlawful seizure of land. This is exactly why we have the second amendment.

  7. Willis on January 14th, 2018 8:13 am

    Do away with the lift station.
    Yogi and BooBoo never had one and they made it just fine.

    Of course they were BEARS and we all know where they go.

  8. KK on January 14th, 2018 6:54 am

    Obviously ECUA has not offered fair market value for the property.

  9. Michelle on January 14th, 2018 4:20 am

    David Hue Green, Do you really think they will be compensated the actual value of that property? No, they will only get pennies on the $

  10. Michelle on January 14th, 2018 4:17 am

    I wonder how many of you landowners will be so blase’ when they come for your land? No? That will be a different story. right?

    The owner doesn’t want to. so why should they have it stolen from under them?
    They do it once they will do it again.

    Put your pitchforks and torches down and hear all the facts from BOTH sides.

  11. David Huie Green on January 13th, 2018 11:15 pm

    People keep acting like they never learned either the US Constitution as referenced below or the Florida Constitution as we learned in eighth grade Civics class.

    SECTION 6. Eminent domain.—
    (a) No private property shall be taken except for a public purpose and with full compensation therefor paid to each owner or secured by deposit in the registry of the court and available to the owner.
    (b) Provision may be made by law for the taking of easements, by like proceedings, for the drainage of the land of one person over or through the land of another.
    (c) Private property taken by eminent domain pursuant to a petition to initiate condemnation proceedings filed on or after January 2, 2007, may not be conveyed to a natural person or private entity except as provided by general law passed by a three-fifths vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature.

    David for Mrs. Shoemake

  12. David Huie Green on January 13th, 2018 10:59 pm

    “first and foremost that while eminent domain is lawful, the law is unconstitutional.”

    Actually, it IS constitutional as shown by referencing The Constitution:
    United States of America Constitution, Fifth amendment includes “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    Private property CAN be taken for public use, but only with just compensation. Juries can determine the just compensation, although a judge DID override the decision of the jury Grandpa Huie sat on because he said, “No land in Escambia County is worth more than one hundred dollars per acre.”

    Eminent Domain:
    The power of a sovereign entity to take or appropriate any land within its borders for any purpose that it deems necessary or beneficial.

    Public Use:
    A use for property that is designed to benefit the public as a whole, rather than just a private individual or entity. Notice that the Supreme court ruled states could condemn property to give it to people who would raise the property value and associated property tax revenue. That effectively means they can take anything for any purpose if it benefits the government.

    Just Compensation:
    Fair market value of a parcel of property that must be paid to a land owner who has had his or her property taken by the government.

    David for caution but reality

  13. Modest Proposer on January 13th, 2018 6:25 pm

    Eminent domain is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and every day you “patriots” drive on roads that were once private property, send your trash to a landfill that was once private property, get your water, electricity, and other essential services from formerly private property, and the list goes on and on.

    Think the police always owned the land their stations are on? Courthouses, hospitals, military bases? Virtually every public good or service was formerly private property.

    You’re OK with all of that, but bristle at this expansion of a basic utility service that a civilization can hardly do without? Why don’t you who are hostile to this very reasonable action decide what country you’d rather live in than America, with its jackbooted thugs stealing land to provide better sewer service. Then leave!

    I’m betting the landowner tried to take advantage of the situation and is getting exactly what he deserves.

  14. Gary on January 13th, 2018 5:01 pm

    Build another lift station someplace else. Out of smell range of tax payers.

  15. Citizen on January 13th, 2018 4:54 pm

    Touche and learn to spell..stilled messed it up.

  16. Jr on January 13th, 2018 4:41 pm

    You stated “they have to upgrade and replace a regional lift station”
    Maybe “You” should go back and read article.

  17. Citizen on January 13th, 2018 3:13 pm

    *emminant lol..whatever

  18. Citizen on January 13th, 2018 3:00 pm

    “The good of the many outweigh the few”??? huh

    “The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few”

    Send first proof read later

  19. Citizen on January 13th, 2018 1:33 pm

    Read the article:

    They have to upgrade and replace a regional lift station (in other words a pump to move sewage)
    The good of the many outweigh the few.

    There apparently is already a lift station there and it needs to handle more capacity. It has to be done.
    When something like this happens, negotiate for the best deal for your property because it is, and will happen.

    No body is being mean, put yourself in the place of the BOCC that has to make this decision. It is imperative for the health and well being of the citizens as a whole to dispose of waste. It has to be done and growth is coming to the area, simple as that.

    They are updating infrastructure. I support the decision of the BOCC and it will be to grant imminent domain because the property owner apparently did not work with ECUA.

    Some things you can not fight, one thing you can do is pay attention and be reasonable and it’s about time people quit crying victim.

    If you know the Beulah road is coming, hold or sell or move ahead of time. If you see a wave coming your way, run out in front of it, step aside or let it bowl you over and stand there and cry..What the heck happened. Your choice.

  20. Jr on January 13th, 2018 12:56 pm

    “potentially become a regional lift station”
    This appears to be forward thinking. New road, 30 year build out. Live where you work.
    All part of the future plans? It may appear to be in the public interest, years from now, probably.
    Pressing need to justify E.D. At the moment? Nope.

  21. pencil on January 13th, 2018 12:38 pm

    Sometimes “fair market value” just isn’t fair . . . . . especially if you’ve owned your property for a number of years in anticipation of getting a higher return on it somewhere down the road.

    Sometimes the government doesn’t want to give you that little extra that was worth all your time. Sometimes the owner overvalues their property and bargains too hard thinking the government has no recourse . . . . . I hope they come to a reasonable understanding.

  22. Dennis on January 13th, 2018 12:37 pm

    Fighting government is kind of like arguing with that FHP or ECSO officer that you weren’t speeding. You may win but win or loose it is gonna co$t you!!

  23. Dewey S on January 13th, 2018 11:14 am

    This is wrong! E Domain as written applies to dire times of need. ECUA seems to run things any way they want. Not sure WHO they know in our county but I am sick of them. They run a shoddy operation at best and now just want to strong arm a landowner to get their way!

  24. anne 1of2 on January 13th, 2018 11:08 am

    Eminent domain just stops the fight. that land is now toast. We will be hearing those words a lot this year. Just wait until they start that road to Beulah.

  25. David on January 13th, 2018 11:03 am

    Let’s understand first and foremost that while eminent domain is lawful, the law is unconstitutional. This is not the only law that we citizens live under which is unconstitutional. Change the law makers, change the law.

  26. William on January 13th, 2018 10:59 am

    >>How does ecua have the right to pull eminent domain anyway? It’s NOT an Escambia County owned entity, thus being non-government affiliated.

    ECUA *is* a governmental entity. You are correct that it is not owned by or part of Escambia County.

    ECUA was created by the Legislature as an independent local government body in the early 80’s. In the case of eminent domain, the law requires they seek final approval from the “overall” governing body, the county commission, in order to exercise eminent domain.

  27. db on January 13th, 2018 10:53 am

    Not a good situation. The land owner should have more rights than ecua.
    Fair market value would be good, IF the land owner wanted to sell it, if not, then negotiate, not take it. I feel for the land owner, and always skeptical about the utility trying to take land.

  28. willy on January 13th, 2018 10:50 am

    How does ecua have the right to pull eminent domain anyway? It’s NOT an Escambia County owned entity, thus being non-government affiliated. That would be the same as Tom Thumb claiming eminent domain to build a new store there. If ecua WAS in fact, part of the county I could understand it a little better.

  29. fisherman on January 13th, 2018 10:28 am

    There are times when this type of action is needed if ECUA doesn’t get the land owners permission this is the only recourse. I hate all involved have to go through this process but it must be necessary. ECUA could let lift station 143 go off line and all would be up in arms. There are no winners in this situation. The owner should be paid fair market value for his property if ECUA has to go tis route.

  30. homeowner on January 13th, 2018 9:26 am

    Eminent Domain is stealing!!! It should be the owners choice. The owner has paid property tax on this land than it is his no one else.I totally agree with Cantonment resident. .No government or privately owned company should have the right to take land that a person or a person’s family has paid for.

  31. Grand Locust on January 13th, 2018 8:56 am

    Outrageous! A lift station does NOT have to be on just one parcel of land. Go to other property owners and offer a fair market value. It is one thing to need to widen an existing road where there are no options and the land is absolutely required, but strong arming a citizen and denial of his fifth amendment rights to property ownership because engineers are lazy is unacceptable. Give some alternative locations which work and negotiate with land owners in good faith. The tail has been wagging the dog too long in this free nation. Please identify the folks responsible for taking this property by name so that the public can make some changes at election time.

  32. SOUTHERNER on January 13th, 2018 8:48 am

    Honor private property rights.

  33. Concerned citizen on January 13th, 2018 8:12 am

    To the officials at ECUA and the BOCA: Please, put yourself in the place of the landowner. Would like for someone to take your land, and give you what they think it is worth?
    I have acreage in Escambia county and would be furious if they tried to take mine.

  34. Carolyn Bramblett on January 13th, 2018 8:07 am

    I hate the barbaric practice of “eminent domain.” Theft by any other name is still theft.

  35. Becky on January 13th, 2018 7:51 am

    The first document made by our founding fathers states that all men have the right to own property. Taking property away from someone, reguardless of what “term” you call it, is stealing.

  36. Monica on January 13th, 2018 7:03 am

    Cantonment resident, your an idiot. It’s for the betterment of Cantonment residents. No I wouldn’t like it very much either but from what I read the property is not being taken care of anyway so why not sell a portion. By law, they will take it if necessary so you might as well bargain and try to get a higher price. They will still pay you something if they take it by imminent domain but it won’t be as much as if you deal with them now.

  37. Tracy A Smith on January 13th, 2018 6:41 am

    Cantonment resident – I totally agree! ECUA and the government have gotten to big for their britches. ECUA is probably under negotiating the price of the land. Just because the land is appraised at a certain price doesn’t mean that is the price the owner wants. This is would be like buying a house and because you don’t like the price you just take the house and give the owners the price you want.

  38. Land of the Free, not Free Land on January 13th, 2018 6:04 am

    I’d fight the purchase tooth and nail. But if that didn’t work, a call to arms would be in place. I’d take the Stand your ground law to a whole new level. It’s amazing how many people when you’re holding a gun in your hand.

  39. Cantonment resident on January 13th, 2018 3:18 am

    To take someone’s property to put a lift station in Its place is outrageous.This person should fight tooth and nail and not sale to ecua.In my opinion they should go look somewhere else.No government or privately owned company should have the right to take land that a person or a person’s family has paid for.

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