School board using Eminent Domain to force landowner to sell, residents angry

eminent domain, lake weir middle school, lwms, school board forcing land sale, ocala news, marion county news

The Marion County School Board will now head to a courtroom to try and enforce Florida’s Eminent Domain statute (73.015) to obtain land for a new school.

Marion County Public Schools Public Information Officer, Kevin Christian, said that the school district has been trying to purchase 70 acres of a 128-acre parcel in Silver Springs Shores that is non-inhabited.

The parcel is located near Lake Joy, at the south end of the Country Club at Silver Springs Shores, which is west of Hickory Road.

According to Christian, the School board has offered $875,000 for the 70 acres.

It has been suggested that Lake Weir Middle School is beyond repair and that the new school would replace LWMS — leaving the more than 60-year-old building vacant.

LWMS staff members told Ocala Post that the school has been “seriously neglected” and the school was described as “falling apart”.

Christian said, “In the meetings I have attended for years, including dozens of school board work sessions and board meetings, I do not recall an effort to ‘replace’ Lake Weir Middle school.”

If built, Christian said the Silver Springs Shores school would alleviate some of the overcrowding at Lake Weir Middle School.

LWMS was built on 30 acres in 1954. The school is 151,935 square feet and has 62 classrooms.

“The school is currently at 95 percent capacity,” Christian said. He went on to say, “The school is serving more students than it was physically designed to serve.”

Christian said, “Despite multiple offers, the land owner failed to close on the purchase agreement. The board’s first offer resulted in required appraisals on the land.  Those appraisals proved the board’s offer was too high based on then-current land values. After the appraisals came in, the board’s second offer was above fair-market value. Accordingly, the board passed by ‘super majority’ the updated offer to buy the land and reached the closing phase.  However, the owner never closed the deal on the second-offer purchase price. The board even extended the contract to purchase into 2016 based on the owner’s request.  Despite good-faith efforts from the school board, the land owner never responded.”

Christian also said that the school was not neglected, but rather repairs were done as the budget allowed.

The owner of the land is listed as Shuaney Irrevocable Trust of Richard Colbert, and since the owner has refused to sell, the school district will now use Eminent Domain to try and force the owner to sell.

The Eminent Domain statute is considered by many citizens to be outdated and unconstitutional.

According to legislatures, the statute has not been updated in 16 years .

On July 1, 2000, the statute was updated to state that, before an eminent domain proceeding is brought under the chapter or chapter 74, the condemning authority must attempt to negotiate in good faith with the fee owner of the parcel to be acquired, must provide the fee owner with a written offer and, if requested, a copy of the appraisal upon which the offer is based, and must attempt to reach an agreement regarding the amount of compensation to be paid for the parcel.

Christian says the school board has met the requirements.

The statute also states that, during a forced sale, the landowner must be offered a fair-market price.

In addition to citizens being upset over the government trying to force someone to sell their land, parents are also concerned about registered sex offenders in the Silver Springs Shores area.

In the state of Florida, sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school. This also includes any day care facility, park, or playground. However, if the offender was convicted prior to 2004, which is the year the statute was passed, then he or she is exempt.

Furthermore, school districts are not required to vet an area of interest for sex offenders prior to building a school. The burden falls solely upon the sex offender.

Ocala Post wants to hear from you. What do you think about Eminent Domain? Do you think a person should be forced to sell their land? Also, do you think school districts should be required to consider sex offenders prior to building a school.

Ocala Post will publish more details as they become available.

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  • HilleryLostHAHAHAHA

    since when does a school board have the authority to force eminent domain? maybe the dog officer can do the same if they want a new building, totally wrong to take someones land…

  • Passlinebet

    A person who rightfully owns land should not be forced to sell for a “school” There may be extenuating circumstances out there such as in the interest of public safety which is understandable, but a school?…NO.

  • Karen M

    NO! and this reminds me of the little cafe called The Coffee Kettle (?) on Magnolia, a victim of emminet domain! It was favorite of locals, and others for healthy,great home made food, and a place to gather for reasonably priced food! One day the City made an offer for their business & tiny little piece of land on the corner of N.Magnolia . saying they ‘needed it’ for building the now ‘bridge’ that crosses Magnolia and takes you to 14th St. Well, needless to say the owners fought the sale, but LOST due to ‘Emminent Domain’ laws in effect, the City indeed ‘razed’ the little cafe’ ( local protests,petitions, and pleas fell on deaf ears !) The city of Ocala,built their bridge, but surprise! they found that they didn’t NEED the little piece of land after all, so in order to avoid an ‘eye-sore’ on that little corner, they planted some bushes and put in a bench. (to make amends?) probably, but it left a lot of taxpayers, business people, and customers of that business with a bad ‘taste’ in our mouths’ and a memory of what a self serving ‘law’ can do to the average citizen.

    • Ocala native

      Wow I loved the coffee kettle, do you remember the moose head on the wall and the pool table in the back?

    • Tax Watcher

      Can you explain why the city paid for Judge Tommy Sawaya to receive money from the City of Ccala for tearing down a building on private property and Tommy was able to continue ownership of this now vacant lot. If any one else had a building failing down the city would have fined the person. The recorded document is in or Book 5445 pages 274-282 of Marion County Records. It also was noted that Sarah Sawaya place campaign sings on her property for Mayor Kent Guinn and he was a counsel at the time this payment was made to the Judge. Ocala mayor named in list as possible KKK member –…/ocala-mayor-named-in-list-as-possible-kkk-m...
      Nov 3, 2015 – Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn was named as a possible member of the white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan in a list released online by a group ..

  • Tax Watcher

    Well watch which judges that are appointed to the case. Many have ties to the school district in fact. The material posted here is directly from court records, findings by state and Federal and by Federal lawsuit documents for validity to claims if anyone wishes to exam my documents I will provide sorces for this post……. Judge Sanders. He has been working in Ocala since his graduation in 1987, he said, after he accepted a job with a Pattillo & McKeever, PA, and stuck with the firm through several name changes. That firm is now the Bice Cole Law Firm.. … UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA Plaintiff. Case No. 78-22-Civ-0c-20 MARION COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
    , United States v. Marion County School District Race In 1978, the United States sued the Marion County School District (Florida) for maintaining a segregated school system. In 1983, the district court approved a Stipulated Agreement of the parties that, among other things, implemented a plan for further desegregation of the district, including the conversion of two de jure and almost 100% black schools into a district-wide magnet. Since that time, the court entered a decree in 1995 and a modified decree in 2004 to resolve the outstanding desegregation issues. The 2004 modified decree clarified the requirements in the 1995 decree and set forth detailed provisions regarding student assignment (including a policy on out-of-area transfers), the magnet schools, new school construction, staff assignment and recruitment, and the district’s reporting obligations The modified decree cited Copies to: Salliann S. M.Doughem, Esq. John P. McKeever, Esq. Judge King was recused after she presented in a case involving the school district and her husband was legal counsel for the school district. In a hearing where Judge King was presiding involving the school district… APPEARANCES — CONTINUED: GARY L. SANDERS, ESQUIRE Bice Cole Law Firm Attorneys appearing on behalf of the School Board of Marion. County. MR. SANDERS: Gary Sanders representing the School Board of Marion County, who is not a party to this lawsuit, but filed a motion for protective order and motion quash. December 9, 2011; 8:23 a.m. deposition JAMES M. YANCEY, JR. Page 93 Lines 2 – 15 Q In 2008 did you spend more than $25,000 funding this lawsuit? A Not that I’m aware of. I don’t know. Q Given that your limit is 25,000, why haven’t you verified how much you’re spending each year? A Because in our legal fees they are ongoing. They take place all year. We do have a contract with our current attorney, but there are a multitude of attorneys that we may pay more than $25,000 in a year on a specific issue. And we don’t approve that with the Board, we just go forward with legal fees as needed. Q And is that true even though your policy requires that you get approval for expenditures over 25,000? A It is true.
    Florida State Auditor Findings 2012…. District records did not evidence that the Board approved such litigation or that the Board had made a determination that such litigation served an educational and public purpose. The School district had hired 7 law firms and an undisclosed illegal use of fees.

    Recommendation: The Board should document in its official records the authorized public purpose served by the litigation described above. Absent such a determination, the Board should discontinue the expenditure of public funds in support of this litigation. To date, we have received only a portion of legal expenses and the amount to date is… $246,903 and Morris has not presented all of her invoices that she claims to have 500 pages of, nor is Mr. Herman’s invoices have been produced. We speculate the cost may reach $750,000 or more. The School district is still paying for legal fees after the Auditor General’s orders.

    Make sure it is heard outside of the 5th Circuit as the appellate court Judge Sawaya sister worked for Marion County Schools a clear conflict. The Fifth district court of appeals wrote a letter concerning that a case involving Sawaya they had a conflict with. So I must conclude that anything involving them the Marion County School district would have influenced by Judge Sawaya.

  • Tax Watcher

    Do you think the school system cares about Pedophiles in out side the school system I recently ran across a school psychologist that harbored a pedophile.Just as the “Neglect of the schools has caused the need for a new school” had they not wasted hundreds of thousands of school board fund on attorney they might have had the funds to repair schools. A parent provided an option to the pedophile issue at Osceola Middle school. Free cameras donated by Lockheed. The principal and Yancey declined the Free cameras now at 2016 we have a repeat of a near abduction but instead of law enforcement having the advantage of “free camera’s” they are blind. Ocala Police wished they had the cameras in place to help with there investigation. The response by school board member today on lost cameras…I won’t be harrassed by you. I simply said I am not fretting today over cameras that today are in the bottom of the landfill. goodbye

  • Tax Watcher

    The question should be if the school district neglected its duties on care of a school why should a single land owner bear the wrath of the courts if they choose. Amazing that most of the school board members are republicans. After the city was involved with the long lawsuit with the school board the paper quoted a Councilman Mr. Owens in his quote Marion County has the most pathic legal staff Hmmm…

  • Tax Watcher

    School district have been sued for neglect.

  • Tax Watcher

    Has anyone checked the Plat Map and Development order of Silver Spring Shores I believe that they are to reserve land for infra structure including schools.

  • harry

    tRump loves eminent domain. but always for profit not our future, our kids

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