United States of America v. 1.26 Acres of Land et al
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW. Signed by Judge Darrin P. Gayles (ssd)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 16-cv-21588-GAYLES
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
TRACT NO. 416-44
1.26 ACRES OF LAND, et al.,
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
THIS CAUSE came before the Court for trial on May 1, 2017, to determine just
compensation for the property interests taken. The United States of America presented its case.
The Court heard testimony from the government’s expert witness, John Underwood.
landowner appeared at the trial.
Upon due consideration of the evidence presented at trial and
the pleadings on file in this case, the Court hereby makes the following finds of fact and
conclusions of law.
FINDINGS OF FACT
The property at issue in this case is a 1.26-acre parcel of land.
The property legally constitutes all that certain tract or parcel of land lying in,
and being situated in, the County of Miami-Dade, State of Florida, and being more particularly
described as follows: Tallahassee Meridian, Section 20, Township 55 South, Range 38 East,
West 179.30 feet of East 383.60 feet of S1/2 N1/2 NW1/4 NW1/4 Less South 25 feet,
Containing 1.26 acres, more or less.
The property is located within Management Area 3B.
Management Area 3B is an agricultural expansion area.
The property lies south of S.W. 136th Street, between the extensions of S.W.
205th Avenue and S.W. 222nd Avenue, and it has no direct road frontage.
On May 4, 2016, the United States filed the Complaint in Condemnation
Pursuant to the Declaration of Taking [ECF No. 1].
On May 9, 2016, the United States filed the Declaration of Taking [ECF No. 6]
and deposited $2,800.00 into the Court’s Registry, Clerk’s Receipt [ECF No. 8].
The $2,800.00 represents the amount of estimated just compensation for the
taking of the fee simple title to the property.
Pursuant to Schedule “A” to the Complaint in Condemnation and Declaration of
Taking, the authority for the taking is as follows:
The authority for the taking of the land is under and in
accordance with the Act of Congress approved August 1, 1888,
25 Stat. 357, as amended, 40 U.S.C., sec. 3113; the Act of May
30, 1934, 48 Stat. 816, as amended, which authorized the
establishment of Everglades National Park; the Act of December
13, 1989, 103 Stat. 1946, 16 U.S.C., sec. 410r-5, et seq., which
expanded the boundaries of Everglades National Park; and the
Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, 78 Stat. 897, as
amended, 16 U.S.C., sec. 460l-4, et seq.; and under the authority
of the Department of Interior and Related Agencies
Appropriation Act, 2000, as enacted by section 1000 (a) (3) of
the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2000 (Public Law
106-113) and the Department of Interior and Related Agencies
Appropriations Act, 2012, as enacted by section 413 of the
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-74),
which Acts appropriated funds for such purpose.
On August 29, 2016, The United States effected service by publication,
Certification of Publication [ECF No. 12].
No landowner has appeared in this case.
At trial, the United States presented the testimony of expert appraiser, John
The Court finds Mr. Underwood to be credible and reliable.
The Court adopts Mr. Underwood’s determination that the highest and best use
of the property is passive recreation.
The Court also accepts the Mr. Underwood’s use of the sale comparison
approach to valuation.
Pursuant to the sales comparison approach and the comparable sales provided
by Mr. Underwood, the Court concludes that the fair market value of the property as of May 9,
2016, is $3,000.00 per acre for a total of $3,800.00 for the 1.26-acre property.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Title to the property passed to the United States on May 9, 2016, the day the
Declaration of Taking was filed and the estimated just compensation was deposited.
U.S.C. § 3114(b). The sole issue remaining before the Court at trial is to determine just
compensation for the taking.
40 U.S.C. § 3114(c).
Just compensation is generally market
value of the property taken as of the time of the taking. United States v. 50 Acres of Land, 469
U.S. 24, 29 (1984).
The burden of proof in determining fair market value rests on the landowner. United
States ex rel. T.V.A. v. Powelson, 319 U.S. 266, 273 (1943); United States v. 69.1 Acres of
Land, 942 F.2d 290, 292 (4th Cir. 1991); United States v. Evans, 380 F.2d 761 (10th Cir.
Market value is defined as the amount in cash, or on terms reasonably equivalent to
cash, for which, in all probability, the property would be sold by a knowledgeable owner
willing, but not obligated, to sell to a knowledgeable purchaser, who desires, but is not
obligated, to buy. Id.
Based on the record evidence, including the expert testimony of Mr.
Underwood, the Court concludes that just compensation for the taking in this case, as of the
date of taking, May 9, 2016, is $3,800.00.
DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Miami, Florida, this 1st day of May, 2017.
DARRIN P. GAYLES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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