[Hpn] Disabled vet fights for home

Harmony Kieding worldhome@thesociety.net
Wed, 29 Jan 2003 13:47:49 -0800

forward from Harmony:
American Homeless Land Model

Disabled vet fights for home
Jeb Bush considers use of eminent domain against homesteaders


OR shorter link to same:

Disabled vet fights for home
Jeb Bush considers use of eminent domain against homesteaders


Posted: January 28, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Sarah Foster
 2003 WorldNetDaily.com 

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his Cabinet are meeting today in Tallahassee to decide
whether or not to give the green light to the state of Florida to use its power
of eminent domain to oust a disabled veteran and other property owners from
their homes and land, reports the Naples Daily News. 

For over a quarter of a century, Jesse Hardy, 67, has lived at the end of a
dirt road in rural Collier County, on a 160-acre parcel, not far from the site
of last year's Sawgrass Rebellion rally for property rights. Today he shares
his home and life with his 7-year-old adopted son, Tommy. 

Hardy does not wish to move, and last summer even said no to a federal agent
who offered him $1.7 million for his land. 

"I've been here for 25 years and I've done everyone by the book," he told the
press two years ago. "They use my taxes in one way or another, and I've never
asked for a thing.  I just want to be left alone." 

But Hardy's small homestead two miles south of Interstate 75 is within a 55,000-acre
government buyout area called Southern Golden Gate Estates that has been targeted
for acquisition as part of the gigantic Everglades restoration project. The
completed project is intended to restore natural water flows by deconstructing
roads and plugging canals built by developers years ago. It will require the
relocation of thousands of people throughout southern Florida. 

The buyout has already cost the state and federal government $89 million, and
3,981 acres are still in private hands. Today's request, if granted, would give
the state the go-ahead to acquire those remaining acres through eminent domain.

"I plan on fighting this to the very end," Hardy told the Naples Daily News.
"I'm not trying to be a hardball or antagonistic or anything, but I am 67 years
old. I just don't feel like going somewhere else. It'd be like going somewhere
to die, and if I'm going to do that anyway, I'd just as soon do it here." 

And Hardy shouldn't have to leave, says his attorney Bill Moore of Sarasota,

According to Moore, state land buyers are refusing to consider other options
such as buying an easement across the property or agreeing to wait until Hardy's
death before taking the land. 

Moore said he'll be in Tallahassee today to ask the Cabinet to shelve the eminent
domain plans against Hardy and seek alternatives. 

"There's no good reason that they have to seize his land and kick him off other
than that they just want to," Moore said. 

Hardy has plans of his own for the property. In 2001, he began an earth-mining
business, having obtained the necessary permits from Collier County. Today,
the county is one of his customers, buying rock to build new roads. He would
like to turn the mining pits into lakes for a catfish farm  that is, if he
can hang onto his homestead. 

Promoters of the restoration project say the other owners of property in the
target area have done very well through the buyout and that Hardy would also.
Because federal money is involved, the land buyers must follow federal rules
requiring the government to pay for moving expenses, a similar home and closing

Robert Lovern, assistant director of the Florida Division of State Lands, told
the Daily News the state wants to continue talking with Hardy, but hasn't been
able to come to an agreement. 

"We're willing to talk with him. We'll sit down with him anytime to talk about
it," said Lovern. 

Hardy's is not the only eminent domain case on today's Cabinet agenda. The state
wants to use eminent domain to acquire some roads and canals owned by Collier
County and to seize 800 acres owned by the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.

Since the tribe has adamantly refused to sell, this could become a test case
for the property rights of an American Indian tribe that is recognized under
the law as a sovereign nation. 

"We do respect their sovereignty and the heritage they're trying to protect,"
said Lovern. "We have our hand out to them to see if we can all reach our objective."

The Miccosukee and the South Florida Water Management District also are locked
in a legal battle over the district's decision to use eminent domain to seize
ownership of 375 acres the tribe owns in Miami-Dade, the county adjacent to
Collier. The restoration plan calls for using that area as a giant reservoir.

The tribe refuses to sell either that land or its land in Southern Golden Gate

County Manager Jim Mudd says that Collier County owns about 200 miles of roads
and 30 bridges in Southern Golden Gate Estates and has told the Daily News that
since the county commissioners passed a resolution supporting the restoration
project, he does not think the county will resist selling the roads and bridges
 as long as the price is right. 

Mudd said that moneys derived from the road and bridge sales would help close
a shortfall in the county's road-building budget, but added that negotiations
had not started. 

The issue came up last week at a meeting with the South Florida Management District,
said Mudd. 

"I let them know it [the roads and bridges] wasn't going to be given to them,"
he recalled. 

Related story: 

Multi-state convoys converge in Florida 

Related commentary: 

Get rid of the people!

Senators steal Florida land

Trouble brewing in Florida's swamps

Sarah Foster is a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily.
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